On Tuesday at 8 am the new international signing period officially began. By the time the calender flipped over to July 3rd, no fewer than 19 of the top 30 international prospects (as ranked by Baseball America) had signed with teams.
The Twins of course got into the mix quickly by signing 16-year old Dominican OF/1B Lewin Diaz for $1.4 million. Ranked by Baseball America as the 15th best international prospect in this year’s class, he was expected to sign for over a million dollars and Minnesota was the clear frontrunner to acquire his services. The interesting thing to note (perhaps more coincidental than interesting) with the addition of Diaz to the organization is that he signed for the same bonus amount that they gave Dominican SS Amaurys Minier* last summer.
*Minier, if you’re curious is currently hitting 0.269/.333/.500 through 7 games (30 PA) as a 17-year old in the Gulf Coast League.
Diaz gives the Twins another power bat in their pipeline. While he is one of the top international prospects in the 2013 class when it comes to his raw power potential that grades out as plus-plus, he is seen as a 1B only prospect long term which limits his overall value. Reports are that he has a knack for hitting and a good knowledge of the strike zone but his raw power doesn’t show up in games on a consistent basis. Since we’re talking about a 16-year old that already has a 6’4″ 210 pound frame, that’s hardly surprising and he certainly has time to develop and turn that potential into results as a professional. Diaz being left-handed is an added bonus for the Twins.
MLB.com, which had him ranked as the 10th best prospect in this year’s international crop, wrote the following about Minnesota’s new slugger:
Overall, Diaz has notable raw power and one of the best rhythm and timing approaches among all hitters in the international market this year. An average athlete, Diaz has always had the ability to hit for average. But now teenager also understands that he has the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark, and it sometimes affects his approach. One scout said he would not be surprised if Diaz ended up hitting 40 home runs in the big leagues one day.
In addition to Diaz, they also landed 16-year old Dominican 3B prospect Roni Tapia. The signing bonus for the 6’3″ 170 pound teen came in at $550,000 and like Diaz, has significant power potential at the plate and room to grow.
His write up on the Dominican Prospect League’s website included the following:
Tapia is a legitimate corner guy, he has present average arm strength with future projection to be plus. His hands and fielding ability will play average but his best tool is his right handed power bat. He can drive balls gap to gap with ability to turn on pitches with major pull power.
Between Tapia and Diaz, the Twins have already invested $1.95 million of their allotted $3,908,600 international bonus pool. According to Brandon Warne, a source has confirmed that Minnesota has signed a total of five international players thus far though Tapia and Diaz are the only two we know about and are likely the biggest names the team has reached deals with.