As of this writeup there were 9 international free agents that inked a deal to play ball in NCAA for over $10M. Three of those players will be crouching behind the plate when they get to the bigs, two of them the top money makers. It was such a good year for C that we even had one owner who admitted to having a man crush and not only signed up for his fan club but was thrilled that he would be receiving a signed picture of the C in his jock strap! Enough about man crushes and jock straps though, on to the recap.
The top signer thus far is 18 year old C Ramon Pong who was snatched up by the Charlotte Tar Heels (and the man crush). Pong was signed for $20.3M, the only player to receive over $20M in a signing bonus this season, and immediately sent to rookie ball. In 27 games so far he’s hitting for a .374 avg. with 13 HR and 35 rbi. Pong projects to have great accuracy when throwing players out at the plate with pitch calling but his bat is absolutely amazing. He can hit for contact, power, against lefties, and has an outstanding eye. He has no weakness with his bat at all and has the stamina to play nearly every game. He will be an absolute force when he makes it to the big leagues.
18 year old Carlos Carrasco comes in 2nd on the top paid list with a signing of $17.6M with the Fargo Bison. Carrasco is calling games for the Bison in Rookie league this season where he’s played 37 games, hitting for .318 avg with 3 HR and 25 rbi. He’s not going to hit for power but he will be hard to keep off the bases with his bat and will have the defense to be behind the plate for the Bison.
Luis Martin becomes the 1st non-catcher to get paid the big money, inking a deal for $13.9M with the Dover Figthin Blue Hens. He’s listed as a SS but Dover has him playing CF in Rookie league for them this season where he’s hitting .325 with 4 HR and 18 RBI in 29 games. It will interesting to see where they play him in the bigs as he looks to be able to play CF, 2B, or 3B. He’s got a great eye and contact with below avg. splits. He’ll be a guy to watch when he gets called up to see how he performs.
18 year old Bernie Flores becomes the top P prospect on the money list, signing a $13.5M contract with the Salem Beavers. The Beavers have him in Low A where he’s pitched 3.0 innings for a 3.00 era allowing 3 hits, 1 ER, 1 BB and 3 SO in his short time on the mound. Flores will be a setup pitcher with outstanding control.
One of the oldest Int’l to sign this year, 22 year old Pedro Guerrero gets a $12.5M contract from the Louisville Cardinals. He immediately started in AAA where he’s started 10 games for 70.2 innings of work with a 4.46 era. He’s got the stamina to be a SP in the majors with nice splits and above avg. control with 3 solid pitches. Guerrero looks to be a nice addition to the rotation for the Cardinals and a nice bargain at what he was signed for.
Louisville wasn’t done with just Guerrero, also signing 19 year old P Victor Diaz to a $12.1M contract. He gets sent to Low A ball where he’s pitched in 23 games, saving 13 out of 14 opportunities with a 1.84 ERA. He’s control is pinpoint and he’ll be a force against righties with no liability against left-handed batters too much. Add 3 solid pitches and the Cardinals look to have their future closer in their farm system this season.
Pedro James rounds out the C’s signed, inking a $10.8M bonus with the Minnesota Golden Gophers. James begins his future with the Gophers in Low A ball where he’s yet to see any action. He’s got the arm and pitch calling ability to be behind the plate and can definitely hit the long ball. His stamina should have him playing all 162 games when he gets to the majors.
19 year old Edgard Polonia becomes the 2nd highest paid SS on the list, agreeing on a $10.5M bonus with the Helena Grizzlies. Polonia gets sent to Rookie league where he looks to develop more into a 3B possibly. He’s got speed along with a decent bat to be a nice pickup for the Grizzlies. In 5 games he’s hitting .400 with 1 HR and 6 RBI.
The last to crack the $10M list in 22 year old SS Vic Cruz with the Cincinnati Bearcats. Cruz signed for exactly $10M and gets to start at the High A level. He’s been in 118 games, hitting .299 with 22 HR and 109 RBI. The Bearcats have him playing the SS position where he’s fielding .948 as he develops although his glove might not get to where it needs to be for that position. He’s bat might be enough to make up for him playing there though where he’ll keep hitting them out of the park no matter what league he plays in.