Today is one of my favorite days of the baseball season and it has nothing to do with the major league team. July 2nd is International Signing Day because the window to sign players from other countries opens again with an entirely new crop of players. Typically, the players signed today are teenagers from Latin America, and they must be at least 16 years old to sign.
The reason I enjoy this day so much is because of the incredible impact players from the Latin America market have had on baseball. Specifically for the Yankees, they have had great success identifying future stars. On the current Yankee roster, here is a list of players who have been signed through this process:
And that is only the players on the current 25-man roster. The minor leagues are populated with international signees such as top prospects Estevan Florial, Albert Abreu, and Deivi Garcia. Although the Yankees did not sign all of the players on the above list, their track record is very strong. They did sign Gary Sanchez and Luis Severino, who have been two of the most important Yankees over the past few years. It is clear the Yankees have relied on players from Latin America, which is why today is an important day.
What are the rules?
Jesse Sanchez of MLB has a great article about this process and information on top prospects that you should definitely give a read. Like the draft, each team has a bonus pool. The Yankees pool for this signing period is $5,398, 300. Top prospects sign for multiple millions of dollars, so this may not seem like a lot at first. However, teams are able to trade for additional bonus pool money, and the Yankees have consistently done that the past few years. You can trade for up to 60% of your bonus pool, which means the Yankees can max out at over $8.5 million. Remember the incredible Luke Voit trade last year? Well, the Cardinals also kicked in some international spending money. Look for several minor trades over the next few weeks which include pool money to the Yankees so they can sign several top players in this year’s class.
Who are they going to sign?
The big name is Jasson Dominguez. He is the top prospect in this year’s class, and Jeff Passan of ESPN wrote a profile on him yesterday. Dominguez is an outfielder, and holy cow are the reports glowing! In the Passan article, he cites a GM who compared Dominguez to Mike Trout which is quite frankly ridiculous – but speaks to the immense talent.
FanGraphs rates him as a 50 FV prospect, and they would immediately put him somewhere near the 100th best prospect in all of baseball. He has reportedly already hit balls with an exit velocity of over 110mph, which is insane for someone that young. That is huge praise for a 16 year old with limited game experience, none of which has come in the minor leagues. Here is some video of Dominguez to show you how special the talent is.
Dominguez is likely to sign today for $5 million, according to multiple reports. That is the largest bonus the Yankees have given to an individual player through this process which tells you how highly they think of him. In theory, that $5 million would nearly deplete the entire spending pool, but remember the Yankees can and likely will trade for more space.
The other prospects
The Yankees are also likely to sign John Diaz, and outfielder from the Dominican Republic. Sanchez has him rated as the 18th best prospect in this class. Here is a video scouting report of Diaz:
I have been unable to find likely bonus information on Diaz, but safe to say as a top prospect he will command over $1 million to sign. Which is further evidence that the Yankees will in fact trade for more pool space.
(Update): Jesse Sanchez just tweeted that Diaz is signing for $1.2 million.
It is merely coincidence that the top players the Yankees are signing are outfielders. These guys are so young and so far away from the big leagues. Even high school draftees are two years older than most of the players signed today, so the goal is solely to find the best talent. It took Gary Sanchez years in the minor leagues to develop, and there is no way that the players signed today will impact how the Yankees approach the trade deadline.
Today is an exciting day because there are more talented players the Yankees will sign and bring into the organization. Plus, with an excellent track record of developing prospects into major league contributors, it is really exciting to think about who these players could become.