July 2 is one of the biggest days in major-league baseball on a yearly basis. For those unfamiliar with the significance of the date, it marks the beginning of a new international amateur free agency period. This is the process by which the Red Sox have signed Yoan Moncada, Anderson Espinoza, Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts, among many others.
This upcoming period — which lasts until July 1, 2018 — will be the first time the Red Sox really get to participate in this process in a couple of years. They were ineligible two periods ago after blowing past the soft cap by signing Espinoza and Moncada, among others. Last period, they were limited due to their usage of “package deals” in previous years.
This upcoming signing period will be the first as its kind, as the system got an overhaul in the new CBA that was agreed to last winter. Whereas they used to be a soft cap for each team that punished teams for going over but still allowed it to happen, the league has changed to hard caps this year. The amount of money teams have is linked to how they performed in the previous season. For example, the Red Sox will have $4.75 million to play with. That is, that’s how much they will start with, as they can trade for money from other teams’ bonus pools.
If this is all confusing, don’t worry about it. The main thing you need to know is that the Red Sox are able to participate in this important market once again, and are looking to use this as another way to stock the farm system. Below are some of the top international amateurs the Red Sox are expected to sign according to Baseball America.
Daniel Flores, C, Venezuela
Flores is the second-ranked player in the class according to Baseball America, and some teams reportedly have him as their number one player. The catcher is known mostly for his defensive chops, as he’s already an elite backstop. Specifically, he already gets the ball to second base at elite pop times and does well blocking pitches. Offensively, Flores is a switch-hitter who relies more on power right now but has plenty of potential to develop as an all-around force at the plate.
Danny Diaz, SS, Venezuela
The Red Sox are likely to stick in Venezuela for their next top-rated international prospect in Diaz. Although he is listed as a shortstop, he is almost certain to move to the hot corner and could do so as soon as he signs. Ranked as the seventh best international prospect by Baseball America, he is the anti-Flores as he’s known for his bat more than his glove. The big infielder is projected to have above-average power potential and could have an above-average hit tool as well. He’s expected to be able to stick at third base given his strong throwing arm and quick hands, but he’ll have to keep his size in check to avoid moving across the diamond.
Antoni Flores, SS, Venezuela
Flores is the final top-50 prospect connected to the Red Sox and comes in at number 35 on Baseball America’s rankings. He is clearly a step below the other names listed here, but scouts rave about his makeup. It’s unclear whether or not he’ll be able to stick at shortstop at this point, but he’ll probably need to stay in the middle infield to have value due to a bat that doesn’t project to grow all that much.
According to Baseball America, the Red Sox have agreed to deals with all three of the players listed above as well as shortstop Nelfy Abreu out of the Dominican Republic and shortstop Denny Daza out of Venezuela. None of the signing bonuses have been announced at this time, and the bonuses for the players out of Venezuela may take longer to be announced at the request of the family of the players.