July 2, 2015 at 12:30 PM
The Red Sox have signed Venezuelan prospects Albert Guaimaro (pictured) and Simon Muzziotti to $300,000 deals, each according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. The international signing period opened today, and as in past years, the highly-regarded players have quickly agreed to deals.
Both Guaimaro and Muzziotti have long been linked to the Red Sox, and they were the favorites to land them despite their bonus restrictions. The Red Sox international bonus pool for the 2015-2016 signing period is $3,681,000, however, due to their excessive spending last signing period, including the signing of Yoan Moncada for $31.5 million, the Red Sox are not allowed to spend more than $300,000 on any one player during the next two signing periods. Therefore, it is no surprise that these highly-rated prospects both required the team's maximum to sign. However, it is a bit surprising that the Red Sox were able to convince these two to sign for that amount when other teams could have potentially offered much more.
Ranked as the 14th-best international prospect by MLB.com, 23rd by Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs, and 15th by Baseball America, the 5-foot-10 Guaimaro is considered very athletic, physically advanced, and the better prospect of the two. McDaniel and Sanchez agree that he is an aggressive hitter with the potential for a fringe average bat and average power in time. Baseball America adds that he has good bat speed and a short, line drive stroke and uses the whole field well, rather than trying to pull everything for power. Where these publications' opinions differ is their view of him as a fielder. His arm is above average, demonstrated by the former pitcher hitting 88 mph on the radar gun off the mound. However, Sanchez lists him as an outfielder where he has spent most of his time in showcases, while McDaniel lists him as a catcher where he has some past experience. The 16-year-old has been listed between 188 and 210 pounds, and either way he will need to work to keep his body in shape as he matures. Guarimaro was trained by former major leaguer Carlos Guillen.
Muzziotti's position is not in question, as he is viewed as a center fielder with above average defensive ability. Fitting the mold of a typical center field prospect, McDaniel also says that the 16-year-old has above average speed, but below average power. Baseball America scouting reports comment that his set up at the plate allows him to slice balls to the opposite field, but it also leaves him prone to rolling over balls that he tries to pull. They also note that he sustained an injury to his throwing arm about a year ago, which stunted his development a bit. The 6-foot, 165-pound lefty was ranked as the 44th best intentional prospect by McDaniel, and 24th by Baseball America.
Part of the reason that these two highly regarded prospects were willing to sign for $300,000 while other top prospects are signing for millions is due to the instability in Venezuela. Baseball America's Ben Badler began speaking about this subject in an article back on March 3, stating that the country would begin requiring United States tourists to apply for a visa. This made it much more difficult for scouts to see the players, and further increased the risk in a pool of talent that is already extremely risky. Badler went into more detail on the subject earlier this month about the impact the country's difficulties had on the players and in turn their expected bonus. He notes that Venezuelan residents had become more desperate, leading players that would previously have chosen to go to school to turn to professional baseball instead. The Red Sox signings are examples of this, but it is not universal, with several other Venezuelan players signing for more than a million dollars.
The Red Sox are fortunate to be able to bring in high-level talent with the strict restrictions on their spending, but despite the talent, the players are only 16 years old and thus still very raw and risky.
Photo Credit: Albert Guaimaro by Baseball America.
Will Woodward is a Staff Writer for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @SPWill.