The Blue Jays are said to be the front-runners in the Orelvis Martinez sweepstakes, the Dominican SS who will likely receive the highest bonus on the July 2nd opening of the international free agent signing period.
Martinez will likely command a bonus of more than $3 million, soaking up much of the Blue Jays’ $4.75 million bonus pool allotment. This is the first year of new rules regarding exceeding pool limits. In the past, teams could blow past their limit, and pay a penalty, and have their bonuses limited the following season (as the Jays did when they signed Vladimir Guerrero Jr). A hard cap is now in place. Teams can increase their pool through trades, or by competitive balance means.
Ben Badler of Baseball America was in the Domincian Republic this week to catch MLB’s Showcase of top international talent, who notes Martinez:
Has fast hands and a calm, easy swing that generates power and loft from right-center over to his pull side.
At 5’11″/180, the 16 year old still has plenty of room for growth, and is not projected to stay at SS in the long term. His bat and body seem to indicate an ultimate landing at 3B.
The Blue Jays have shown a preference over the past two years for toolsy, athletic players, with make up being a key component – “the 6th tool” as Blue Jays Director of Player Development Gil Kim has termed it.
Martinez’ 6.98 time in the 60 isn’t exactly slow, but it’s not a time you would expect from a natural SS, again lending support to the idea that he’s moved off of the position eventually. His bat will likely be his calling card, anyway.