Seattle makes three million dollar signings to highlight a well-regarded international amateur group.
The international amateur signing period typically opened on July 2nd (hence the common Inside Baseball shorthand “J2 signee”) was delayed due to COVID-19 challenges in winter of 2020 and once again in 2021, creating the confusing beginning of the official “2021” signing class this January 15th, 2022. If the day were an actual deadline MLB treated seriously, that might have caused some turmoil, however every club typically agrees to deals with these players well ahead of the actual allowed opening of negotiations. This means we’ve known for months the names listed below were going to be Seattle Mariners, however today it is official and legal! It is frustrating that this genuine moment of excitement and opportunity to see new talented prospects join the fold is interwoven with such sketchy business practice, but here we are. The club should announce these deals officially soon, and may have other deals to announce as well. As these are minor leaguers not on the 40-man roster, the club is able to make transactions as usual.
Below are scouting reports on the players that have been reported by Baseball America and/or MLB Pipeline as of this moment. Seattle has a pool of $5,179,700 to spend, and all clubs are able to sign as many players to <$10k bonuses as they please without counting against their pool. While in past years clubs have been able to trade international pool money, that has been banned for the past two seasons.
OF Lazaro Montes – $2.5 million
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) January 15, 2022
This enormous 17-year-old Cuban is who graces the cover photo for this article, dwarfing Nelson Cruz as he stands a reported 6’4, 215. At the moment Montes is reportedly a center fielder with solid mobility, though it’s quite likely he adds more strength as he ages and shifts to a corner outfield spot or even first base. At present, however, he moves well and with impressive fluidity given his age and size
6’4 Lazaro Montes stretching a double is a sight. pic.twitter.com/gsrKTZbEo0
— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) May 23, 2021
The lefty swinging youth has impressive bat speed and a sweet swooping swing that gears well for loft without getting too long. He has been training with the same trainer in the Dominican Republic as current Astros slugger (and fellow Cuban) Yordan Alvarez did, and is generally viewed as one of the top players in this year’s class. His bonus reflects that, as it is more than the club signed either Julio Rodríguez or Noelvi Marte for in their respective classes. As far as I can tell, the bonus Montes commanded makes him the highest-paid international amateur ever signed by Seattle, and certainly in the bonus pool era.
SS Martin Gonzalez – $1.3 million
Reputationally, the 17-year-old Dominican is one of the best defensive shortstops in the class, with noticeably improved physicality that should help him hang offensively and hopefully be a contact-heavy middle infielder with enough pop to progress. He is fluid and should have little trouble sticking up the middle with his glove.
INF Maicol Arroyo – $1.3 million
The Seattle Mariners deal with 17-year-old third baseman Michael Arroyo is expected to be worth $1.2 million, making him the second 7-figure signing in this class. “Pure hitter. A steal for that price.”pic.twitter.com/z6PdDCbMZI
— Joe Doyle (@JoeDoyleMiLB) January 15, 2022
The top-paid player from the country of Columbia, Arroyo’s reports highlight his offensive skillset, in particular within high-level travel ball both within his home nation and in showcases like the Future Stars Series here in the United States. Like most players at Arroyo’s age, he is listed as a shortstop, but at least early reads note he may shift to either third or second base depending on his physical progression. Reports commend his ability to put quality contact on the ball in both practice and game situations, but the 17-year-old may depend on his physical development for his ultimate future home. Also, in case your friends ask: no relation to Mariners recent 2nd round pick Edwin Arroyo, who is Puerto Rican. Also also, reports have his name as “Michael Arroyo” which he may well adopt in the pros. He appears to spell it “Maicol” himself however, which makes more sense written out in Spanish. When the club officially announces these moves soon we should hear clarification.
RHP Marco Patiño
Mexican righty, more info when we have it, but here is his Instagram.
SS Joaan de Jesus
Another shortstop from the Dominican Republic! More info hopefully to come.
RHP Eduardo Tovar
This is confusing, and goes off the Baseball America list, which is exceptional but not official from the team. It seems likely it is a new normal signee, but could also be recently released Venezuelan RHP Oscar Eduardo Tovar, who is a former Oakland Athletics minor leaguer and just 23 years old. Clarity should be forthcoming.