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.
Ben Badler of Baseball America attended the showcase of top prospects for next July 2nd in the Dominican Republic earlier this month, and in an article today suggested that the Blue Jays are the odds-on favourite to land 15 year-old SS Orelvis Martinze next summer. Martinez is expected to command the highest bonus of all IFAs when he signs.
Fresh off this past July 2nd, when the club signed 5 of the top 40 ranked prospects, including Brazilian P Eric Pardinho, the Blue Jays appear to be very competitive in the IFA market.
Martinez showed well in pre-game batting practice and drills during the event, which was held by Major League Baseball. Having not played in several months, he was rusty at the plate, however. And his below average 60-yard times suggest that the 5’11″/175 youngster will eventually grow off of the position.
At the plate, Martinez already shows smooth mechanics. His bat takes a short path to the ball, and he gets good extension on his swing. He barrels up ball consistently with excellent bat speed. His motions are fluid and swift. In the field, he doesn’t show actions that are as smooth, and that coupled with his relative lack of speed lend support to the idea that he may shift over to 3rd. His hit tool is the strongest element of his toolkit. With the loft he gets on his swing, it’s easy to project some power down the road.
Of course, it’s highly unofficial that Martinez will sign with the Blue Jays. As we have learned in the past, however, where there’s international prospect smoke, there’s usually fire. Pardinho was linked to the Jays well in advance of this year’s July 2nd signing date, as was Vladimir Guerrero Jr two years ago. Credit goes to Blue Jays Assistant GM Andrew Tinnish, and Director of Latin American Ops Sandy Rosario for their work. Despite bonus limits imposed last year by signing Vladdy Jr the previous one, the Blue Jays got good value from the players they did sign in 2016, despite not being able to offer a bonus beyond $300K.
Martinez is expected to sign for a bonus in the neighbourhood of $3 million. Cuban RHP Oseil Reodriguez, who hit 96 at the showcase, will likely be the top IFA Pitcher.