Ben Badler at Baseball America came out with his outstanding International Prospect signing reviews this past week, covering all players who got six figure (or more) bonuses over the 2014 signing period. It is behind the BA paywall but if you have a subscription, don't miss that series of articles.
This also means that it is time to finalize my 2014 Shadow Twins international signings. As many of you know, I started doing a Shadow draft for the Twins way back in 1996. I started doing international signings of my own in 2012. Before that I just signed the same international players that the real Twins signed, meaning that I did get to keep Miguel Sano since he signed before I started doing this.
The ground rules I have established for international Shadow signings are simple:
A) The Shadow Twins get the same bonus pool amount as the real Twins. For 2014 this was $3,686,000.
B) If I want to go over that pool amount, the Shadow Twins would be subject to the same penalty as a real team: That means that I can go up to five percent over without any trouble but anything past five percent would limit my ability to sign players in subsequent years.
C) If I want to sign a player who signed with a different team in real life, the Shadow Twins bonus must exceed the real life team bonus by 10%. That means if I want someone who signed with the Cardinals for $1,000,000, I have to spend $1,100,000 to get him. However, if I sign a player that the real Twins signed, then the money is the same as in real life since I wouldn't be bidding against myself.
D) Once a player has taken the field in professional baseball, I can't sign him retrospectively.This has to be done without any pro evidence.
E) My self-imposed deadline for finalizing the list each year is April 15th.
Here are my first two classes:
2012 Top International Signings
1) Frandy DelaRosa, SS, Dominican Republic (Cubs) $770,000
2) Lewis Thorpe, LHP, Australia (Twins) $500,000
3) Argenis Silva, RHP, Venezuela (Twins) $375,000
4) Starling Ynfante, RHP, Dominican Republic (Padres) $220,000
5) Chih-Wei Hu, RHP, Taiwan (Twins) $220,000
6) Crusito Mieses, RHP, Dominican Republic (Angels) $200,000
7) Rainis Silva, C, Venezuela (Twins) $175,000
8) Henry Alvarado, OF, Dominican Republic (Cardinals) $170,000
9) Johan Quezada, RHP, Dominican Republic (Twins) $150,000
10) Antonio Tovar, OF, Venezuela (Twins) $100,000
11) Jorge Parra, OF, Venezuela (Twins) $45,000
Basically I signed DelaRosa, Ynfante, Mieses, Alvarado (1.36 mil) instead of Amaurys Minier (1.4 mil). This was probably a mistake.
2013 Top International Signings
1) Joan Mauricio, SS, Dominican Republic (Astros) $660,000
2) Carlos Talavera, OF, Venezuela (Cardinals) $550,000
3) Jaimito Lebron, RHP, Dominican Republic (Padres) $460,000
4) Isael Soto, OF, Dominican Republic (Marlins) $340,000
5) Jose Martinez, RHP, Venezuela (Twins) $340,000
6) Robert Molina, C, Venezuela (Twins) $300,000
7) Jack Barrie, 1B, Australia (Twins) $250,000
8) Erick Balbuena, RHP, Dominican Republic (Twins) $175,000
9) Moises Gomez, RHP, Venezuela (Twins) $150,000
10) Edgar Herrera, OF, Venezuela (Twins) $135,000
11) Orby Tavares, LHP, Dominican Republic (Yankees) $100,000
12) Ruar Verkerk, 3B, Netherlands (Twins) unknown
I did not sign Lewin Diaz and Romi Tapia, the two big names from the real Twins class. That was probably a mistake too. Diaz looks very good.
As you can see, I try to spread the money out rather than just dump it all in one or two players. For 2014 I stayed with that strategy for the most part. The top guy in the real Twins class was right-hander Huascar Ynoa. However, I liked Franklin Perez, signed by the Astros in real life, better than Ynoa.
Originally I decided to sign both of them, which would have eaten up more than half my bonus pool in two pitchers. However, the final decision is different: I kept Perez but let Ynoa go and split the money up differently. I just can't put all my imaginary eggs in two pitching baskets.
2014 Top International Signings (pool) 3,686,000 (spent) 3,800,000
1) Franklin Perez, RHP, Venezuela (Astros) 1,100,000
2) Jesus Sanchez, OF, Dominican Republic (Rays) 440,000
3) Lenin Rodriguez, C, Venezuela (Phillies) 330,000
4) Lachlan Wells, LHP, Australia (Twins) 300,000
5) Jeifry Nunez, RHP, Dominican Republic (Rangers) 275,000
6) Emilio Ferrebus, RHP, Venezuela (Cubs) 275,000
7) Edwin Yon, OF, Dominican Republic (Reds) 185,000
8) Samuel Castro, SS, Dominican Republic (Marlins) 165,000
9) Daniel Guzman, LHP, Venezuela (Mets) 155,000
10) Edgar Pineda, SS, Venezuela (Rangers) 150,000
11) Sandro Cabrera, RHP, Dominican Republic (Giants) 150,000
12) Danny Contreras, OF, Domnican Republic (Mariners)110,000
13) Orlando Cedeno, RHP, Dominican Republic (Indians)110,000
14) Leonardo Crawford, LHP, Nicaragua (Dodgers) 55,000
This means that the Shadow Twins did not sign real Twin Huascar Ynoa and a bunch of other guys. The real universe and the Shadow universe will continue to diverge.
That list is now officially locked in; those players are now in the Shadow Twins system. With $3,686,000 pool money, I can spend up to $3,866,000 (bonus pool plus 4.9%) without incurring a signing limitation penalty for 2015. Going up to $3,800,000 as I have done with this group gives me an overage of $114,000. That would cost me an additional $114,000 in taxes (chump change) to the commissioner's office but keeps me away from the more important penalty of losing player investment power in 2015.
Maybe someday I will blow past the bonus pool but not this year. Yes, this is all imaginary but most front offices don't have the budget to do what the Yankees did last year and I find it more fun this way.
So how did I pick these guys? Well that's a combination of things: scouting reports, video, a little word of mouth, lots of guesswork, and the all-important "cool name" tool. With Lenin Rodriguez on board, I guess I'll have to sign Stalin Gerson as a free agent.