The Minnesota Twins dipped into the international market on Friday,
signing one of the recently-released Atlanta Braves prospects.
When the Minnesota Twins traded away international funds on Wednesday, many felt that it meant that no major “name” guys from the recently-released Braves players or major names left on the international market would be coming to the Minnesota Twins this offseason.
Then Thursday, Lavelle E. Neal III mentioned that the Twins had actually outbid the Angels for the services of Kevin Maitan, widely considered the biggest name of the Braves players available, which led to some hope that the Twins could still be after a Braves guy. Friday, they made that move:
MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez is the site’s international expert, and he had the first note about the Minnesota Twins signing Severino and the money that he would be getting from the Twins:
Specifically notable about that signing bonus is that it is more than Severino originally got when he signed with the Braves, which makes him the first released Braves prospect to sign for more money than he had originally signed for, and also makes him the highest-paid former Brave thus far, earning a signing bonus $300K more than Maitan’s.
Just who is Severino, exactly?!
Many were curious when the Braves signed four 7-figure signing bonus guys technically listed as shortstops how each would be developed in their minor league career. The Braves may have left that question still up in the air with the three other shortstops in the class, but not with Severino.
Severino played every inning defensively in 2017 in his pro debut as a second baseman, and that truly fits his scouting profile as an unsigned amateur, as he was discussed having excellent hands, but not really the range to handle short consistently. His offensive profile was also such that many compared him very favorably to a young Robinson Cano (see below to see where the comparison has changed after the first season).
This season could not have shown better for Yunior, and there’s a strong reason he moved to the top of the signing bonuses, even over Maitan. Severino did only have a .186 batting average in the Dominican Summer League, but that was also on a pretty putrid .220 BABIP, showing well with more walks than strikeouts.
When Severino moved stateside to the Gulf Coast League, he immediately began to get positive press. The sound off of his bat was just different. He wasn’t putting the ball out of the park consistently, but he pounded the gaps, leading to 17 doubles and 2 triples in just 206 plate appearances. Add in his 3 home runs, and Severino was getting an extra base hit in 10.7% of his plate appearances. For an idea just how good that is, Brian Dozier had an extra base hit in 9.6% of his plate appearances in 2017.
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When the players were released, a quick ranking of the prospects by this writer would have the top targets for the Twins (in order) as Maitan, Severino, Yefri Del Rosario (who signed with the Royals), and Livan Soto (also signed with the Angels).
Soto is probably my favorite of the bunch, but he’s a defensive wiz at short, and the depth at the position in the Twins system didn’t lead to him being a high target. To have gotten the #2 on that list is incredibly impressive.
Our own Benjamin Chase did a top 100 prospect list on the Atlanta Braves for Call To The Pen before the players were removed. Ben had him ranked #22 in that deep system at that time. Here’s the write up he had on Severino:
"Severino was tagged when he was being sought after by teams to sign him in the 2016 IFA period as a player with a bat ahead of his glove. One veteran scout remarked to me that Severino reminded him tremendously of former Giants and Dodgers second baseman Jeff Kent at the plate, and that’s spot on with his profile from signing and also from multiple views I’ve heard from folks like Matt Powers of Talking Chop and Jason Woodell from Prospects 1500. Severino showed well at second base, very steady, but not flashy, and he could be seen at third base some as well due to an above-average arm. In all reality, Severino’s profile fits a Kent comparison very well, and Braves fans should be overjoyed if that’s what he ends up becoming. He’ll likely open 2018 with Danville, but he could jump to Rome with continued positive production like he showed in 2017."
The great part of this deal is that the Twins did not have to take away from their opportunity to re-sign the prospect that they released from his previous contract, Jelfrey Marte, as the money they just spent on Severino can be taken from the 2018-2019 money or some split of both.
It would also not inhibit the Twins from pursuing one of the Braves guys likely to get a reduced signing bonus due to struggles in his first year, either infielder Yenci Pena or power right-hander Juan Contreras, who were unsigned as of this writing (though it’s a fluid situation!).