July 2 is the more unheralded amateur signing period, which isn't surprising. It comes less than a month after the Rule 4 draft, the talent is extremely less well known, and instead of 21 year old college guys it is instead obscure Latin American 15-16 year-old kids.
However, the talent is just as rich in the group as the Rule 4 draft can be at times. Top prospects like Jurickson Profar, Miguel Sano, Raul Mondesi, Gregory Polanco, Maikel Franco, Julio Teheran, Yordano Ventura are all examples of players to come out of Latin/Central America. The July 2 group is also expanding to European countries as well, as seen with the Royals signing Marten Gasparini from Italy.
Back in April, Kiley McDaniel reported that the Royals were one of the teams likely to go over their bonus pool. This past Friday, Ben Badler went a little further on the subject reporting that the Royals were likely to go more than just a little over.
Bonus Pool: $2,074,700
Trade Maximum: $3,112,050
Hey, the Royals are finally good. So now instead of picking at the top of the draft every year, the Royals didn't pick until No. 21 overall this year and have the No. 24 international bonus pool. To keep the talent pipeline flowing in the lower levels, the Royals will be aggressive on the international market.
As Badler mentions above, the Royals pool allotment is $2,074,700. The pool order is congruent with the previous years standing, so naturally the Royals have the 24th largest pool.
That number though can be a bit deceiving. First, the Royals can trade up to an additional 50% of their pool, which is shown above to be $3,112,050. Secondly, penalties for going over means that teams likely won't even be able to use all their pool.
• 0-5 percent over: 100 percent tax on pool overage.
• 5-10 percent over: 100 percent tax on pool overage. Can't sign any pool-eligible players for more than $500,000 in the next signing period.
• 10-15 percent over: 100 percent tax on pool overage. Can't sign any pool-eligible players for more than $300,000 in the next signing period.
• 15 percent or more over: 100 percent tax on pool overage. Can't sign any pool-eligible players for more than $300,000 for the next two signing periods.
For instance last year the Rays, Red Sox, Yankees, Diamondbacks, and Angels all went well beyond their pool allotment. While they still retain their overall pool, they are restricted from signing any player for more than $300,000. While they could still wind up with good signees (for instance Yordano Ventura got $28,000), they are out of the running for any top tier or better than group average talent.
This means of course that the Royals are likely going to be under the same restrictions for the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 signing classes. This would keep them out of the running for the guy who's considered to be one of the better Latin American guys in recent years, Kevin Maitan, who gets comps to Miguel Cabrera (when he was a July 2 guy) and will be eligible to sign next summer.
The Royals have a checkered past when it comes to signing Latin guys (not a comprehensive list)
SS Ricky Aracena $850,000.
SS Jose Marquez $435,000
OF Juan Peguero $225,000
RHP Randy Acevedo $150,000
RHP Darwin Feliz $110,000
Too early to judge the classes and players really. Many haven't even made their state side debuts.
SS Marten Gasparini $1.3 million.
OF Cristhian Vasquez $775,000
C Meibrys Viloria $460,000
OF Jose Caraballo
OF Joel Arias $250,000
Gasparini has been suffering from a back injury, keeping him out of action for periods at a time. Vasquez struggled in the DSL, but Viloria was one of the best hitters on the team.
OF Roman Hernandez $550,000
3B Samir Duenez $425,000
RHP Julio Pinto $375,000
3B Ryan Dale $245,000
OF Alberto Saez $170,000
LHP Junior Reyes $155,000
RHP Ofreidy Gomez $115,000
SS Jose Martinez $100,000
The top head of this class have all struggled. Hernandez was a 25 year old in AA who hasn't played in the MiLB since 2013 and last played in independent ball in 2014.. Duenez had a good debut but struggled in a promotion to Lexington and now returning has been just as poor. Pinto shows promise as a pitcher stuff wise, but has had control issues. The Australian Ryan Dale rounds out the $200K+ guys and was just miserable last year for Burlington.
OF Elier Hernandez $3M
SS Adalberto Mondesi $2M
LHP Enmanuel Camacho $450,000
OF Yem Prades $285,000
C Luis Lara $190,000
SS Angelo Castellano $172,500
SS Wander Franco $120,000
Elier Hernandez was arguably the top player in the 2011 class and has been inconsistent. His full season debut was underwhelming (90 wRC+) but a return to Lexington this year has been better (122 wRC+). Many evaluators were surprised at the Royals giving Mondesi $2M (he was expected to get ~$1M) but the Royals look better now with giving him that much.
SS Humberto Arteaga $1.1M
SS Orlando Calixte $1M
OF Jose Solano
As small top bonus class for the Royals here. Arteaga has struggled to hit every season and despite playing organized baseball for 6 years he's yet to make it above A Ball Lexington (he's there for the third straight year). Calixte however has made his major league debut (albeit as a replacement player) and is somewhat on the Royal radar as a SS with power who could profile as a utility middle infielder if his bat gets a little better.
3B Cheslor Cuthbert $1.5M (record for a Nicaraguan player)
RHP Noel Arguelles $7M
OF Carlos Rosa (unreported)
Arguelles was a complete bust and has been DFA'd. Cuthbert was once a top 100 prospect, but hasn't hit well enough to retain that promise and is still kind of looking for a position.
Others of note:
Kelvin Herrera (unreported)
Yordano Ventura ($28,000)
Salvador Perez ($65,000)
Jorge Bonifacio (unreported)
Some of the big names they've spent money on have either busted or not been as good as expected, but some of their lottery tickets have paid off huge. Obviously Perez and Ventura are the lottery tickets that cashed out, but there are also dozens of other low-bonus guys who never became anything really.
This year the Royals have reportedly agreed to deals with two high bonus players. These sort of agreements happen often prior to the signing period beginning and the players are often signed just hours after the day begins.
OF Seuly Matias
Matias is one of the older July 2 guys, turning 16 last year. His best tool right now is his extremely strong arm (perhaps the best of the class) that is currently in the 65-70 grade range. That arm is coupled with above average to plus speed which helps him possibly stick in centerfield. If he fills out more than expected (he's certainly going to get bigger) then he may be moved off to a corner outfield spot. Inside the box Matias offers above average bat speed which helps him connect and bring forward his current average raw power which may move to 55 power as he matures.
The question with Matias though is his hit tool...potentially. Some scouts believe in the bat and hang a future 50-55 grade on it, while others aren't convinced, citing his pitch recognition and balance at the plate leading to swing-and-miss stuff.
There's an argument that he could have five average or better tools eventually and that he's got the best upside/tools in this class, but the downside of course is just as high.
Matias is projected to get between $2-3M.
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 55 | Run: 50 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50
Matias can run, he can throw and he can hit for power.
Many scouts believe he has the best overall package of tools in the class. He might also have the best projectable body.
The teenager projects to be extremely physical, and he could end up too big to stay in the middle of the infield. It's unclear if his run tool will impact his overall game, but his arm definitely will. Matias could have a plus arm in the future with plus raw power. He also has shown good bat speed and solid defensive abilities. As a result, Matias could end up in right field.
His bat tool could use some improvement, but that's expected to come once he enters a team's academy and receives daily instruction. Moreover, his overall game is expected to improve once he plays in games regularly
MLB.com rated Matias the 9th best July 2 prospect, while Baseball America put him on their top 10 list (nobody was ranked).
SS Jeison Guzman
Guzman doesn't have the bat upside as Matias (he'd arguably be the best guy in this class if he did), but defensively he's the best SS in the class. He's got the hands, athleticism, and feet to stick at short. He lacks speed a bit for a middle infielder grading as below average and that may be what moves him off short (if it were to happen).
He lacks power from the box and it isn't really expected to get much better even as he fills out, however he does handle the bat well, making contact and hitting line drives. However as a glove first SS, he doesn't necessarily need to hit for power, and a 90-100 wRC+ with above average defense would be just swell.
He's expected to sign for $1-1.5M
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 60
One of the top defensive shortstops in the class, scouts love Guzman's combination of athleticism, quick feet and actions on defense.
He's also been praised for his soft hands, instincts and a first-step quickness that allows him to get to balls that other infielders can't reach.
On offense, Guzman has a decent bat and he has a chance to hit, but that part of his game remains a work in progress. For now, he's considered a line-drive hitter with gap power. He's close to average running speed, but he's a good baserunner and is expected to improve in that area once he's placed in a team's academy. Guzman does not blow away scouts with his tools, but he's an above-average baseball player and he knows the game.
Guzman has the type of glove that can keep him a lineup everyday and allow his bat to develop. He's a savvy player and scouts like his makeup.