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2021 Miami Marlins: Swimming in International Waters

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The 2021 Miami Marlins management team continues to emphasize the international talent pool. The Kim Ng led front office had success in the international signing period last week. The International signing monies are an important tool used to create parity in the league. Savvy front offices know the value of international talent; not only their skill set but also the budget construction. The Miami Marlins were active, as Ng and her newly formed front office understand the importance of acquiring international talent.

Ng enters the job with a strong arsenal of talent on the farm. MLB.com ranks only the Padres (7th), better than the Marlins in the Top 100. The 2021 Toronto Blue Jays and 2021 Miami Marlins each have six. This ranking is relative. There are three or four-valued sources that produce a top 100. These three farm systems have a strong track record across multiple lists.

@allstarcollect5 2021 Miami Marlins

2021 Miami Marlins:

International Signing Period: Offseason tracking

Previously, the international signing period started at the beginning of July. The 2020-21 international signing period was moved from July 2, 2020, to January 15, 2021, due to the Coronavirus pandemic. This move to the offseason allows more focus to be put on coverage of this important aspect of Professional baseball. International players are eligible to sign with a Major League team between January 15 and December 15, or if the player is 17 years old, or will be 17 at the conclusion of the first season of the player’s contract. Full coverage can be fiund here.

On January 15, 2021, the Marlins signed Cuban prospect Yidddi Cappe. He has been a hot commodity since age 16. This acquisition has been highly anticipated and is a few steps forward for the new front office headed by Ng. A highly touted prospect, Cappe is listed as No. 10 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 International Prospects List.

The young Cuban’s deal is a reported $3.5 million. Yiddi Cappe has been on the international stage the last few seasons and is widely regarded as one of baseball’s top 10 international prospects. His 6’3″, 175-pound frame has room to mature. He has played shortstop in Cuba since age 16, but may move to 3rd or Outfield. This progression is similar to future HOF Miggy Cabrera who signed with the Marlins in 1999 and debuted in 2003. This year the Marlins also signed players from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Mexico.

All and all, the Miami Marlins front office made use of their resources to actively make good on their commitment to international players.  They also announced the signing of 11 players to open the 2021 International Signing Period, including the jewel of Cuba, Infielder Yiddi Cappe. The 18-year-old Cuban is a consensus top 10 international prospects (Baseball America No. 4, MLB Pipeline No. 10). The Marlins have been in discussions of signing him since 2018. He broke on the scene as a 16-year-old during international play for the Cuban team.

As Ng, embarks on her first full year; let’s recap the international signings since the Jeter Era.

In 2017, Miami Marlins landed top shortstop prospect in the Dominican Republic, Ynmanol Marinez ranked No. 12 on MLBPipeline.com Top 30 International Prospects list. His scouting grades are as follows Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 45 | Arm: 60 | Field: 65.

While some scouts think the infielder will eventually move from shortstop to third base, there are others who believe he has the tools to stay in the middle of the diamond. It all depends on the maturation process and how he fills out. This seems to be a common theme in the Marlins organization.

Marinez is athletic with soft hands, good body control, and solid range to both sides. His bat continues to develop. Typical of a young hitter, he is working on hitting secondary pitches. A summation would be a line-drive hitter with some natural loft to his swing, Marinez can spray the ball to all fields. It is important to track his progress in 2021.

They also signed Venezuelan shortstop Julio Machado. In total, during the 2017 int’l signing period, The Marlins announced the signings of 13 international prospects, including Marinez and Machado. According to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez, Marinez signed for $1.5 million.

Miami’s continued follow through on making the International market a priority for the organization is reinforced year after year. The strategy has been proven successful in the past; resulting in 2 World Series Titles.

Ng will strive for sustainable success through the player development system; both international and amateur draft. In 2018, the Marlins landed the No. 1 prospect Cuban outfielder Víctor Víctor Mesa, and his brother Victor Mesa Jr. Surprisingly, the younger has seemed to develop and surpass his older brother in the eyes of talent evaluators.

The Mesa Brothers (Not Menedez)

As the story goes, “In May 2018, Mesa and Victor Jr. defected, signing with Miami for a combined $6.25 million. Victor Victor signed for a franchise-record of $5.25 million. Their dad is a legendary Cuban ballplayer who is compared to Rickey Henderson, nicknamed “El Loco.” Most notably, Victor Victor went 3-for-7 in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

The Scouting community says Mesa’s speed and defense are big-league ready. He has a high base running IQ. Also, the speed to play CF in the Majors. His arm graded double-plus from some evaluators.

Here is the downside view: Mesa’s offensive upside is limited. Yes, he makes consistent contact, but he doesn’t drive the ball. One comparison is a faster version of Albert Almora.

“Our 2019 class brings a good tools packet of athleticism up the middle of the field to our organization,” said Marlins’ Director of International Operations Fernando Seguignol. “They show great athletic bodies with upside. A hard-working group of players with passion, discipline, and respect for the game. We are happy for this new group of players and excited to watch their individual development on and off the field. ​”

Ferando Seguignol, Marlin’s Director of International Operations

2021 Miami Marlins: Edward Cabrera

In a previous article, I mentioned Edward Cabrera’s importance in the future success against potent NL East hitters. Coming out of the DR, Cabrera went unsigned during the 2014-15 international period. The Miami Marlins took a flier, offering a $100,000 signing bonus in July 2015. That is peanuts when compared to most international signings. Recent Cuban brother combo Victor Victor Mesa and Victor Mesa Jr. signed for $6.5 and $1.2 million respectively.

Edward Cabrera made a splash in his 2016 pro debut. His first three seasons were underwhelming and trade talks cooled off. In 2019, he logged a 2.23 ERA, .190 opponent average, and 116 strikeouts in 96 2/3 innings while advancing to Double-A at age 21. A back injury slowed Cabrera in 2020, a year after a breakout season put him among the system’s elite arms. This lead to his fall in the rankings from No. 64 to No. 86.

2021 MLB Amateur Draft; No. 16

With college baseball and Spring Training starting in February, the 2021 Miami Marlins front office will begin to shift gears to scouting for the 2021 Draft. We will discuss in further detail the draft approaches, but the Marlins have the 16th pick. The last first-round draft pick this late came in the 2010 MLB Draft, selecting Christian Yelich. Remember his MVP level production?

In the 2020 MLB Draft, the Marlins had six draft picks and used all six of their picks on pitchers. Yes, you read that correctly. It should also be highlighted that five out of the six draft picks were collegiate pitchers; headlined by Max Meyer out of Minnesota. In the second round, the Fish selected 6’6” left-hander Dax Fulton out of HS. The selection of mature arms suggests Miami has an eye on ‘making a run’ in the next few seasons.

With the 16th pick, the Marlins should take the best available on their board. Hector Rodriguez of FishStripes.com notes “It will also be interesting to see if the Fish continue to show a preference for college players over prep ones.” I agree. Their int’l market strategy will have to mesh with the amateur draft approach. With a barebones payroll, the draft and international market are the backbones of Miami’s organizational success.

2021 Miami Marlins International History

The Florida Marlins were an expansion team in 1993. Since day one, the Marlins have enjoyed success with international signings. Alex Gordon, Luis Castillo, and Miggy are a few examples of early franchise international signing success stories.

Two recent signees were left fielder Marcell Ozuna and right-hander Jose Urena who were both signed from the Dominican Republic. The Jeter era began will a payroll purge resulting in the trading of Ozuna, Yelich, and Stanton. This resets the asset cycle with new prospects.

Among their most famous international signings are Jose Cabrera, Livan Hernandez, and Edgar Renteria. Renteria had a stored career. He debuted in 1996, finishing second to Todd Hollandsworth (Who?) in Rookie of the Year Award balloting.

The first iconic Marlin moment came in 1997 with his RBI single off Charles Nagy in the eleventh inning of Game 7 of the 1997 World Series, resulting in winning the first World Series in Marlins’ history over the Cleveland Indians. Additionally, Rentería won the World Series Most Valuable Player Award with the San Francisco Giants after he hit game-winning home runs in Game 2 and Game 5. Talk about ‘Clutch’!

International Pool Money Rules

Per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, an international player is eligible to sign with a big-league club between July 2 and June 15 of the following year if he is 17 or will turn 17 by the end of the first season of his contract. Due to the pandemic, the signing period start date has shifted to January 15.

The rules for signing international prospects were recently negotiated per the Collective Bargaining Agreement. According to the CBA, every team gets at least $4.75 million to spend on international prospects. This is to provide tools for parity.

Clubs that receive a Competitive Balance Pick in Round B of the MLB Draft receive a pool of $6,431,000 for spending on international prospects, while clubs that receive a Competitive Balance Pick in Round A receive $5,889,600. The remaining teams get bonus pools of $5,348,100 each – excluding the Angels and Phillies, who receive $4,732,700; the Yankees ($4,232,700); and the Braves ($1,572,000).

Atlanta is in the final year of reduced bonus pools as part of the penalty for violating international signing guidelines. Also, as part of the new rules, a club can trade as much of its international pool money as it wants – but is limited to 75 percent of the initial pool.

Per MLB.com, the Braves forfeited $500,000 for each of their signings of Marcell Ozuna and Will Smith in the 2019-20 offseason. This mechanism is set up to benefit smaller market teams who lose free agents to larger markets.

The New York Yankees also lost $1 million for signing Gerrit Cole, while the Phillies and the Angels each forfeited $500,000 for signing Zack Wheeler and Anthony Rendon, respectively. Additionally, teams cannot trade bonus pool money this year, period signing bonuses must be +$10,000 signing bonus, and foreign professional players who are at least 25 years of age and have played in a foreign league for at least six seasons are also exempt.

This year has certainly been unique. MLB’s Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, Morgan Sword, had some important words at the start of Signign Day, “The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the game of baseball at all levels. The start of this signing period is an important step back toward normal life for players, trainers, and all who help to grow the game of baseball around the world.

“We congratulate all of the players who will sign professional contracts in the coming days. This contract is the culmination of a lifetime of hard work for them, their families, and all who supported their development.”

The acknowledgment of the tough times in 2020 as well as the excitement and joy for these players and family is an important message to the baseball community.

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