In their biggest foray into the Latin America international market, the Orioles reportedly used about $5.75 million of their $5,889,600 million pool to sign 17 players, highlighted by catcher Samuel Basallo from the Dominican Republic for $1.3 million and Venezuelan shortstop Maikol Hernández for $1.2 million.
“Today is a landmark day for the Orioles organization and its international efforts,” Mike Elias said in a statement, “Being good in this market is essential to any team. We had and still have some catch up to do still, but this class was a gigantic step.”
At 6-3 and 198 pounds at just 16 years of age, Basallo may not be done growing so there are some concerns that he could outgrow his current position of catcher. Reports are that he brings a plus arm and blossoming power potential and his signing bonus set a new franchise record for Latin American signings. With an August birthday, Basallo will play most of next season at 16 years old.
MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reports, “Basallo is of the youngest players in this entire class, a bat-first, left-handed-hitting catcher who stands out for his physique and raw power to all fields. He produces precocious strength from his 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame, posting exit velocity readings as high as 104 mph (with a wood bat) in batting practice, according to sources. Scouts also give Basallo high marks for his arm and flexibility behind the plate, while noting he could grow out of the position in time.”
Even though he signed for a little less, Hernandez brings an exciting mix of size and tools and has some scouts reminding them of a young Manny Machado. At 17 years old, Hernandez reportedly has a strong arm and good power, but at 6-4, 175 pounds, there are also concerns he could grow out of SS at some point. Hernandez was the 30th best international prospect available to be signed according to MLB Pipeline.
MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reports, “Ranked the No. 30 international prospect by MLB Pipeline, Hernández is a lean, athletic shortstop who draws companions to Alex Rodriguez, Manny Machado and Carlos Correa because of his body type. Hernández is a 6-foot-3, 175-pound right-handed hitter with the potential for five tools, already displaying plus speed and arm strength. He also drew heavy interest from the Cardinals, Pirates and Marlins.”
Some additional videos of Basallo, Hernandez and Yasmil Bucce can be found here.
With so little to go on, it’s tough to put them on the top 30 prospect list but due to their signing bonuses, early reports and their assortment of size, tools, and ceilings, we’d put them at #17 for Hernandez and # 18 for Basallo.
The Orioles also added five players with bonuses between $400K and 350K by signing Outfielder William Feliciano ($400K), shortstop Victor Celedonio ($360,000). Teudis Cortorreal ($350K) and shortstops Euribiel Castillo ($350K) and Anderson de los Santos (350K). Venezuelan left-handed hitting catcher Yasmil Bucce signed for $300K.
Other players signed by the Orioles were: 17-year-old shortstop Eruviel Castillo, from the Dominican; 16-year-old left-handed pitcher Deivy Cruz, Dominican Republic; 17-year-old shortstop Anderson De Los Santos, Dominican Republic; 16-year-old outfielder Hector Jiménez, Dominican Republic; 16-year-old outfielder Junior Lara, Dominican Republic; 16-year-old outfielder Ángel Peña, Dominican Republic; 17-year-old left-handed pitcher Elvis Polanco, Dominican Republic; 17-year-old catcher Carlos Rodriguez and 19-year-old shortstop Grabiel Salazar, Venezuela; and 16-year-old shortstop Angel Tejada, Dominican Republic.