Since the Red Sox were penalized from making a splash and contributing during the international signing period a year ago, Dave Dombrowski and company really wanted to make it happen this year. They had their eyes set on a few targets who could really be difference makers.
The Sox front office knew that in order to sign a few of these players they would need some more money to play with. The Red Sox had a goal not to over sign with money they did not have. In order to account for lack of funds, the Sox traded a few minor league depth pieces to teams with some extra international pool money.
Picture courtesy of El Prospecto.com
Nick Longhi, a potential power hitting first baseman, was traded to the Cincinnati Reds. Longhi was a 30th round pick in 2013, who was having trouble putting it all together. However, his power was starting to come around. The Red Sox also traded infielders Stanley Espinal and Imeldo Diaz to the Cardinals for more international pool money. The importance of the money given was due to the fact the Red Sox had been given a hard cap on spending by the MLB in which they were not allowed to exceed. The money obtained in trades is added to the total.
Going into the international signing period the Red Sox were slated to sign two of the top 10 international prospects, as well as another prospect in the top 50. The Red Sox had their players identified and they made sure to sign those players as soon as they were able.
The gem in this class is 16 year old catcher from Venezuela, Daniel Flores. He is also the number two ranked international prospect this year. Flores is a switch hitter who has the potential to be a very special player as a catcher. He should hit for a good average and has a chance to hit for good power as well. His defense will get him to the major leagues. Some major league scouts have said that, at 16 years old, Flores is the best defensive catcher they have ever seen. He has an impressive arm, and great footwork. He knows how to manage a pitching staff, and a good defensive catcher is a really hard commodity to find, especially one who can throw out runners, manage a pitching staff, and hit. Since Flores is only 16 years old he will most likely start out in the Dominican Summer League, but if he is as special as he seems to be, he could be a fast mover. The Red Sox lack quality catching talent in their system. Seeing Flores move into the top prospects list as early as next year in the system is not out of the question. Video of Daniel Flores can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/BwN1Wdfag7g
Photo Credit IPL_Venezuela
Danny Diaz is the other top 10 prospect the Red Sox were able to sign. He is a shortstop from Venezuela. He is currently ranked number 7 on the international prospects list. Diaz has a big bat and should be a power hitter. He is already listed on Baseball America’s website at 6’3” and 200 pounds. He has a nice smooth swing and quick hands which leads to his power production. Most scouts think that Diaz will move from shortstop to either first or third base. Danny should also start in the Dominican Summer League. If a position change is imminent, that could slow his development until he learns the new position. If Danny stays consistent at the plate and can hit, the Red Sox will find a place for him. Video of Danny can be found here: https://youtu.be/EE2gLfx5WjE
The last top 50 prospect the Red Sox signed was also a shortstop from Venezuela. His name is Antoni Flores. Antoni will stay at shortstop. He is a skinny, lanky kid who makes good contact with the bat. He doesn’t project to have much power, but he does have speed. Antoni should be a top of the order bat. He is also a rangy shortstop with good footwork and mechanics. Watching the video of Antoni, the first player that comes to mind is Alcides Escobar from the Royals. Video of Antoni can be found here: https://youtu.be/h3Jx36f2_Yg
It is a good sign that the Red Sox were able to get the players they coveted in the international signing period. After the last two years, when the Red Sox were penalized for the over signing in 2014-15, having their full allotment of international bonus money, plus the money they acquired from trades, is really going to help them replenish the lower levels of the farm system with needed pieces.