Welcome to America!
The international free agent market has been on fire as of late as four top prospects, three pitchers and a centerfielder, have garnered bonuses in the 13-14 million dollar range.
The signings kicked off as St. Louis looked in the Dominican Republic and found a master at changing speeds in big 20 year old righthander Miguel Fernandez. While his stuff looks nasty, the only concern for him is his conditioning as he seems to need extra time to recover from start to start.
The small island nation of the Domican Republic seems to be a hotbed of major league talent as the Cleveland Indians made a big investment in their future with the signing of fellow Dominican Cristobal Redondo. The 18 year old righthander has been working on an array of devastating breaking pitches that he uses with excellent effectiveness to keep the hitters off balance.
The New York Yankees sealed the deal on the final pitcher of this bunch with 21 year old lefty Estaban Marquez from the small Caribbean island nation of Aruba. While he doesn't appear to have a large enough gas tank to go the distance in ball games, he has a devastating array of pitches and looks to become the most difficult to hit among this trio.
Our fourth recent major international signing was by the Chicago Cubs who went to the land of the rising sun to sign switchhitting 19 year old centerfielder Tony Masao. He looks like he will develop into an offensive force at the major league level as he hits with great power while still making good contact. However in the field, his future is less certain. While he may have had the tools to play center in the Japanesse League, we does not appear to be developing the glove skills necessary for a ML centerfielder.
I'm sure the the influx of blue-chip foreign prospects will continue, but we've definitely got four gems in this latest group. With all of them dispersed around the league, the next time all four are discussed in the same place may just be the ML All-Star game in about five or six seasons.
Wheeling and Dealing in South Florida
The Florida Marlins front office has been busy again this season. Last season, they were busy collecting top level prospects while this season, many of those prospects are flying out the door for quality veterans to help the big club right now. The Marlins have acquired a new catcher, Jimmie Ruiz, a new first baseman and last season's AL MVP runner-up, Hayes Swann, a new second baseman, Bob McMahon, a new leftfielder, Mitchell Prince, an ace starting pitcher, Homer Flanagan, an excellent setup man, Victor Lima, and last season's NL fireman of the year, Carlos Solano. Will all of these moves add up to a World Series? Only time will tell if they have enough to get past last season's champs in Philadelphia or the red-hot Diamondbacks. At worst it appears that they will be raising a pennant for the NL South title after this season.
Jerrod Baxter Watch
He remains an unsigned free agent. Has Jerrod Baxter pitched his final inning in the major leagues? If so, it appears to be a very undignified to end to such a controversial figure.