Today is the most exciting day in baseball ten years from now! It's the first day of the year for MLB teams to sign 16-year-old international amateurs to join their organization. By the time these players hit their prime, the country will be fractured in class warfare and indulgent sports leagues will be viewed as prime examples of poisonous excess in society.
Or not! Point is, they're a long way off. The preferred strategy is to stockpile these raw talents and hope some stick as major leaguers. Previously the White Sox were impossibly stingy and simply disconnected from this market, but as evidenced by last year's signing of power-hitting prospect Micker Adolfo, they mean to be noticed now.
There's no one as exciting as Adolfo expected to make his way to the South Side, perhaps nearly every top-ranked international prospect is expected to go to the Yankees for some reason. They're listed as the favorites to sign half of the members of MLB.com's top-10 prospects, and perform similarly on Baseball America's list.
This is both a strange throwback to the old days when one team would just dominate an entire region over the rest of the league, and also an obvious impossibility, since teams have strictly capped international signing bonus pools, and the Yankees don't even have a particularly large one. They have the 17th-biggest bonus pool in the league at $2,193,100, which is barely more than half of what the White Sox have. They may be "in the lead" for a lot of these prospects, but they're going to have to drop out of more than a few of these races.
Of the top-30 prospects, the Sox are tied to Amado Nunez, a 16-year-old (duh) Dominican shortstop (also duh) with considerable size (6'2") who is praised for his offensive potential. Nunez is ranked No. 26 by both MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez and Baseball America's Ben Badler. And at a cost of $900,000, it's been confirmed that he's an official pen to paper signing away from being a part of the White Sox organization. There aren't many MLB-quality prospects who aren't athletic enough to be shortstops when they're 16, however. Miguel Sano was originally signed as a shortstop by the Twins, and has been back-and-forth on whether he can even stick at third base. Adam Dunn was once a shortstop.
Adam Dunn was once a shortstop.
Adam Dunn was once a shortstop.
So, the appeal to Nunez would be his bat, and his ability to develop power as he fills out from his current 178-pound build. The closer he can stick to the middle of the infield, the better, but we're way far away from worrying about that. Sanchez threw average or slightly above-average on all of his tools. He also compared him to a teenage Alex Rodriguez, which I'm guessing is more of a visual comparison.
Also attached to the Sox by MLB.com is Jhoandro (a "h" sound followed by a silent "h") Alfaro, the younger brother of Rangers stud prospect Jorge Alfaro. In their efforts to be the next Molina family, Jhoandro is also a catcher like his brother, and a rather burly one at 5-foot, 8-inches, 200-pounds. It's creepy to analyze the bodies of 16-year-olds, but it's as relevant as any information we have.
Fortunately, the young backstop's size is not cited as a hindrance to his athleticism behind the plate, and he's lauded for being able to hit the ball very far. That's pretty much all you can ask from a backstop, other than being of legal drinking age and capable of replacing Tyler Flowers next week, two standards under which Alfaro fails horribly. Horribly.
I can't dream on 16-year-old baseball players for too long without feeling ridiculous. Tyler Flowers was believed to be a stud hitter all the way into Double-A, and put up big numbers in Triple-A. But it's important for the White Sox to do well on this day. Do well on this day, applaud, and then forget about these guys for a while. At least until they get stateside, or when FutureSox starts writing about them.
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