When you’ve signed guys like Julio Rodriguez and Noelvi Marte in consecutive years, the global palate of one’s tongue become a little more refined—the buds that lay rest upon this tongue are epicurean in nature these days. My pretentious disposition and expectation for international talent is how things have come to be.
This is me now. I want my baseball served with capers or not at all.
Alas, the 2019 International Signing period will be an exercise in restraint and subsumption. The Mariners have elected to spread their international bonus pool money across a greater array of talent instead of splurging on one big name this year.
Indeed, sometimes it’s the peanut butter and jelly sandwich you make at home that ends up being the real crown jewel meal of your week.
Spreading the wealth is a tact that has worked well for the team in the past as guys like Enyel de los Santos, Freddy Peralta, Luiz Gohara and Pablo Lopez all reached the big leagues in recent years, albeit with different organizations. None of these guys were Top 30 international prospects, but all brought value to the organization in the form of trade capital. Projecting international signees is a particularly murky form of prospect fortune-telling, but these are some of the names the Mariners hope will bring value to the organization one way or another:
16-year-old RHP Jose Corniell is a barrel-chested right-hander with a low-to-mid 90s fastball and late life. He also employs a changeup and developing breaking ball with good arm action. To date, Corniell has been used primarily in relief roles and has not yet been stretched out for rotation opportunities. Industry estimates have the Dominican hurler at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, although that could not be confirmed. Corniell is expected to sign for $650,000.
16-year-old shortstop Edryn Rodriguez is a slick-fielding middle-infielder with good range. At 5-foot-10, 155 pounds, Rodriguez isn’t the most imposing figure on the diamond, and at such a young age, the tools follow suit. Rodriguez has good arm for his size, but some question whether it will be able to remain at shortstop. A line-drive hitter with a smooth approach to the ball, Rodriguez should have no problem putting the ball in play consistently, though he lacks power right now. His average-to-above average speed should allow him to stay in the middle infield. Rodriguez is expected to sign for roughly $400,000.
Dominican outfielder Carlos Jimenez is a left-handed hitter with some pop. Also just 16, his 5-foot-11, 150 pounds frame still has time to grow. Jimenez will be a bit more of a project on the field as compared to Rodriguez, as his footwork in the field and approach at the plate will require some fine-tuning.
But again, these kids are just 16 years old.
Having played with the Mejia Top 10 Program, Jimenez has been surrounded by some of the better Dominican prospects from a young age. His cohorts nicknamed him “La Maquina” last year. “The Machine” is expected to sign for $500,000.
Another Mejia Top 10 Program product, 16-year-old Axel Sanchez is another smooth middle infielder. He sports a bigger arm than the aforementioned Rodriguez, as well as a slightly bigger bat. At this stage, he’s very “wristy” through the ball, much like Domingo Santana, although with time and strength, that obviously may change. Sanchez doesn’t run all that well at this stage in his development, likely an average-to-below average runner at this time.
Sanchez and Jimenez have known each other since they were 12 or 13 years old, so they’ll continue their baseball careers together for the foreseeable future.
Nicknamed “La Escoba,” meaning “The Broom,” Sanchez is expected to sign for roughly $450,000.
In speaking with Baseball America’s Ben Badler regarding Seattle’s crop of talent, he said there obviously isn’t a Julio Rodriguez or Noelvi Marte in the bunch that just pops out on the field, but he reiterated it’s far too early to predict things like that with these kids.
“It’s impossible to grade or judge these tier 2 or tier 3 kids with the way international signings go these days,” Badler said. “A lot of these kids have known where they’re going to sign since they were 14 years old, and once they’ve made that decision, a lot of scouts stop watching them.”
Baseball America elected not to rank their Top 30 International Prospects this year for the first time in several years, noting there’s simply too many unknowns these days with how scouting international players has evolved.
Several major league organizations have gone public in their desire for an international baseball draft, an idea gaining steam at MLB. That isn’t so popular in places like the Dominican Republic, where several international players and international academies have spoken out against the idea, even protesting MLB-sponsored scouting events in the last calendar year.
All four of the players listed are expected to sign tomorrow for a combined $2 million. Seattle has almost $5 million to spend this period, so expect far more names to be inked than the four listed.
Kate has done some Instagram sleuthing and turned up a few other players not named on BA’s list. Joaquín Tejada is a Panamanian RHP who has played for Team Panama both in the WBSC U15 and as a Little Leaguer. We have some film from Tejada playing for Team Panama; he’s only 5’10 but clearly has some projection in his frame, and is already at 86-87 with the fastball and showcasing a nice breaking ball as a young teenager.
Also signing, per Instagram, OF George Feliz, who came out of the same IPL program as Julio Rodriguez, and also played some travel ball in the US:
July 2, 2019 George Feliz is one of our guys putting on a show today @samfordbaseball! Plus tools + plus makeup = absolute stud! This 15yo dominican prospect has one heck of a future #gamechanger #competes4Him pic.twitter.com/zVGldpa2iZ— Baseball Country Teams (@BC_TravelTeams) July 31, 2018
Update: Feliz is reportedly getting one of the bigger bonuses in the class, at 900,000. Here’s what MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez has to say about him:
A powerful five-tool center fielder who can hit and run, Feliz compares favorably to Washington’s Robles at the same age. Feliz shows good bat speed in the strike zone and drives the ball to all fields. He has an average arm and good throwing mechanics. Because of his skillset and potential, Felix could be one of the bigger steals of this international class.
Perusing Feliz’s Instagram gave me (Kate) Julio-lite vibes, both as a player and a person.
From the same IPL Academy, Andres Mesa also appears to be connected to the Mariners, although there’s not much more on him than what’s on his own Instagram:
Update: Per Jesse Sanchez, Mesa is signing for 500,000, and “is a strong infielder that shows some power and sprays the ball across the diamond.”
3B Starling Aguilar (part of the 2020 class) also appears to be connected to the Mariners, as first noted by MiLB Mariners back in March:
Aguilar will be a 2020 signee, but promises to be one of the top talents in the class. He isn’t eligible to sign yet, but his Instagram shows him hanging out at the DR facility, he follows the other Mariners prospects on Instagram, and he has pictures of himself in Mariners gear.
We will continue to update this as new names emerge after the signing date/signings are confirmed/the Instagram rabbit hole grows deeper.
Update, July 2:
SS Luis Suisbel is also signing with the Mariners, and wearing this incredibly fly velvet tux while doing so:
Update: the Mariners are signing Venezuelan catcher German Guilarte, who showcased a strong (if wild) throwing arm as a young teen:
Update: Also signing out of Venezuela, Emmanuel Marcano, about whom we can find nothing (and is made confusing by there being another Venezuelan Emmanuel Marcano who plays baseball on the Dodgers DSL team, or maybe it’s the same one?), and catcher Yohander Rojas:
There’s an updated look at Rojas doing some catching drills and taking some swings on his Instagram. He appears to be a switch-hitter:
Update: The Mariners have signed Dominican RHP Adrián Quintana:
The Mariners have signed Dominican RHP Adrián Quintana: pic.twitter.com/BxegGTeyBE— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) July 2, 2019
Brazil checks in with a prospect: RHP Pedro Costa. Not to be confused with Brazilian soccer player Pedro Henrique Estumano da Costa, Perdo Henrique Lemos da Costa pitched for the Brazilian U15 team in last year’s WBC, although sadly without the same video record as Joaquín Tejada.