Thursday, June 12, 2008

International Signings - Michael Iona & Other Latin America Prospects

With the draft now behind us, attention is refocused on international free agents. Beginning July 2, 16-year-old international players who will turn 17 after Sept. 6 may sign with major league clubs.

The crown jewel of the international crop is 16-year-old Dominican right-hander Michael Iona. At 6-foot-7, 210 pounds, Iona has mound presence and a projectable body. He throws a fastball, changeup, and a curve.

Dominican Right-hander Michael Iona
In a recent ESPN Deportes story that linked Yankees GM Brian Cashman to Iona, a scout for the L.A. Dodgers was quoted:

"His most attractive asset is the fact that he has a lot of control for such a tall guy, and he knows what to do once he gets on the mound. Inoa is every scout's dream. He has it all."

From Baseball America:

"Several teams have been linked to Inoa already, including international heavyweights such as the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets and Mariners, while the Athletics have also popped up as a serious contender. Sources have indicated that Inoa will receive a bonus in excess of $2.5 million, and one international scout said agent Adam Katz of Wasserman Media Group, who represents Inoa, is 'starting the bidding' at $3.5 million."

Inoa's fastball works at 91-94 mph, and scouts see even more projection with his size, athletic bloodlines, fluid arm action and easy mechanics.

Let the bidding begin...

Other Top Latin American Prospects

  • OF Yorman Rodriguez (16)
  • RHP Adis Portillo (16)
  • OF Rafael Rodriguez (16)
  • OF Luis Domoromo (16)
  • SS Alvaro Aristy (16)
  • SS Gustavo Pierre (16)
  • RHP Santo Franco (16)
  • LHP Swarling Jimenez (16)
  • RHP Elvin Tavarez (16)
  • OF Julio Morban (16)
  • OF Ramon Flores (16)
  • RHP Jose Valdivia (16)
  • LHP Carlos Perez (16)

Dayan Viciedo
In yesterday's NY Post, George King reports that the Yankees are interested in Cuban 3B Dayan Viciedo. USA Today says that as many as 14 major league clubs have expressed interest.

The two stories also illustrate another concern with international signings. According to King's story, Viciedo is 18; USA today says 19. As the recent Miguel Tejada age controversy showed, who can really be sure?

In 2004, Viviedo played third base and third batter of the Cuban 15-16-year team crowned Pan-American champions in Mexico. He's considered to have great tools needing refinement.

Update (6/13):
I found this little nugget in Peter Abraham's blog:
"Brian Cashman was at the Yankees complex in the Dominican Republic a few months ago to see players work out. Damon Oppenheimer is not largely involved in this aspect of scouting. The Yankees rely on Abel Guerra and Alex Cotto to run international scouting operations...

"The Yankees have been aggressive with players in recent seasons (like Jesus Montero) and you can expect that to continue. But don’t get too caught up in the names or whether they signed a certain player. Quite often the best signings are those that come in under the radar."

Abraham is a smart cat. I agree.


Frank T said...

Man, I really hope the Yankees grab this kid. They were too conservative in the draft.

Anonymous said...

how come you skipped cole? the #1 pick!

Jeff said...

Cole is coming. I just started this blog and am skipping around the draft a bit. Expect his post by the end of the week.

Thanks for visiting.