A Look at the International July 2 Class of 2018

Last week, I had the pleasure of joining CBBSN colleagues Richard Birfer and Lance Browsdowski on an episode of their podcast Spot Starters. It was a fun time I have to say and we covered some great topics and laughed a lot.

After hanging up though, it hit me.

Outside of the rising growth and presence of baseball globally, the future plans of CBBSN’s International Department, and Richard’s mother stealing his Bar Mitzvah money, we forgot to discuss the talent pool in this year’s July 2nd International signing class.

Time waits for no man and it happened anyway, with or without our topical breakdown.

In comparison to last year’s class and next year’s future class, it was in my opinion just ok. A few instances come to mind that you may or may not find interesting.

The fact that the number one international prospect, 22 yr-old Cuban outfielder Victor Mesa, did not sign because he has not been declared a free agent yet is one. He is the son of Victor Mesa one of the all-time greatest players in the history of Cuban baseball. He has been training in the Dominican Republic where he defected with his younger brother, Victor Mesa, Jr., also an MLB prospect chipped off of the same block.

Yes, you read that correctly. Let me clarify that for all you George Foreman fans out there. Victor Mesa has two sons. He named one Victor Victor Mesa and the other Victor Mesa, Jr.

Unfortunately, Venezuela as a country is in so much political turmoil right now that the player’s families, agents, and managers had to ask MLB to refrain from posting any signing bonuses. The fear of safety to those receiving large sums of cash could not be risked. This is not the first time and it has been going on for too long. This year the Venezuelan market has produced 12 top-50 signings and 123 overall players to MLB organizations.

In case you were wondering how that compares to the rest of the countries here you go.

There were 305 prospects signed thus far and the Dominican Republic leads all countries again with 150 total and 27 of those in the Top 50. The list drops considerably after that with Cuba (12) and the issues that surround their struggle with deportation. Panama and Colombia each had eight players signed and Brazil cracks the list with two while Nicaragua had one.

There was a Mexican catcher named Fernando (Villalobos), who ironically wears #34 and was possibly on purpose ranked #34 by Baseball America.  It is unfortunate that he will not sign due to the ban that the Mexican government has keeping professional players at home.

We could talk about the outstanding talent in a number of players in this year’s class like catcher Diego Cartaya (#3) from Venezuela signed by the Dodgers. Cartaya has been showcasing his above average defense, hitting prowess and baseball IQ since he was 10 years old. I could also mention any of the top 16 shortstops to include Marco Luciano (#2) from the Dominican Republic with his projection to develop 70-grade power and possibly move to third base or right field. The Giants inked him for $2.6 million. The Yankees scored Cuban right-hander Osiel Rodriguez (#5) whose fastball already sits at 96 mph to go with his 77-mph curveball as a side dish. Keep in mind he just turned 16 and stands on the rubber at 6-foot-3 while packing 205 libras.

The story that intrigued me the most and perhaps brings some much needed joy to my baseball world and this year’s class was the signing of two brothers. Now you might say. ”Ok a couple of above average kids 12-18 months apart that are good enough to make a team want a two-for-one deal”. You might even guess they are Dominican or Venezuelan making it even less of a big deal.

Well you’d be wrong.

I know it wasn’t a brilliant set up, but hey, nonetheless, it is an interesting story.

They are not from the Dominican or Venezuela. They are not close in age. They are exactly the same age. Yep, identical twins from a small island of around 160,000 people that is Curacao.

Yes, Curacao strikes again! With yet more budding talent in the middle of the infield. Ryson and Rainier Polonius, both signed by the Tampa Bay Rays and ranked respectfully as 30th and 31st on Baseball America’s prospect list will someday soon join the ranks of their hero countrymen and current MLB starters Andrelton Simmons, Didi Gregorius, Ozzie Albies, Jonathan Schoop and Jurickson Profar.

They both have exceptional speed with Ryson a tick faster (6.61-second 60-yard-dash) than Rainier (6.74-second 60-yard-dash). Both have the range, hands and first step quickness that is expected to play in the middle. Rumor has it that most scouts think the bat of Ryson has a little more pop and that Rainier’s arm strength may be more suited for second base. They stand back to back at 6-foot-even and a buck forty soaking wet with rocks in their pockets. Physically it is no surprise these kids are both in need of mixing in a couple T-bones and a baked potato en route to the weight room. It should be interesting to watch these twins as they grow stronger and smarter at each level while they battle it out Seager brother style.

Whelp!

That’s all I got for now and I apologize for the late info. Stay tuned for more on the international side of things as I will be announcing some newly hired scouts in Latin America as we build out our CBBSN global domination.

I hope to get back on the mic soon with the boys of Spot Starters where we can talk more international ball and get to the bottom of where Birf’s bar mitzvah money was really spent.

Hasta entonces!

See you at the Yard!


Resources used: Baseball America

Nick Holmes

Writer and regular podcast guest with CBBSN. Nick is the founder of WorldBaseballExperience.com. With ample experience scouting internationally and a knack for storytelling, his perspective provides a dynamic welcomed to our content. Contact Nick at Info@CoachNickHolmes.org

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