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Royals sign Yefri del Rosario, free agent from the Braves scandal

The Royals shell out $650k for the pitcher.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Kansas City Royals Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals have signed pitcher Yefri del Rosario to a deal with a bonus worth $650,000, according to reporter Jesse Sanchez. del Rosario had been with the Atlanta Braves organization, but was granted free agency last month to punish the organization for circumventing international bonus pools.

The 18-year old right-hander hails from the Dominican Republic and played his first year of affiliated ball last year. He posted a 3.62 ERA in 37 13 innings between the Braves’ Dominican League affiliate and their Gulf Coast team in Florida. He struck out 36 and walked 14. He is known for a “live fastball” and “hammer curve” although he struggled at times last year. The Braves originally signed him for $1 million and he was originally ranked the 26th-best international prospect during his signing period back in 2016.

Here is a recent scouting report from Andy Harris at Outfield Fly Rule.

What’s interesting about Del Rosario is how much movement he gets with all of his pitches. His four-seam fastball sits in the low ’90s with natural sink, but he has also has reportedly run the pitch up to 97. Del Rosario’s curveball is a late-break pitch that can be a true strikeout weapon when he finishes it off properly; when he doesn’t it takes on a more slider shape and will hang. Finally, Del Rosario throws a rapidly improving change-up that also has shown good movement. Control can come and go, but the repertoire will keep him in the starting rotation for now. He will need to work to clean up mechanically to stay there as he moves up through the organization, but the building blocks are very promising.

Here is some footage of him pitching from 2015. You can see some resemblance to Yordano Ventura.

Baseball America ranked him the fourth-best player out of the players the Braves lost in their signing scandal, writing:

He's now pitching with a plus 91-94 mph fastball that touches 97 and the added arm speed has also helped tighten up his sharp breaking ball. His delivery isn't particularly clean, but he throws strikes and his cross-fire delivery adds deception.

The Royals are currently in the international signings penalty box for exceeding their pool in 2015. Ordinarily that would mean they could offer no free agent more than $300,000. However, MLB permitted unusual rules for the Braves free agents, allowing teams to apply the bonus either during the 2017-2018 signing period - which the Royals are limited - or the 2018-2019 signing period - where the Royals are not under the $300,000 limit.

The Braves were forced to lose 12 minor leaguers are part of their punishment from Major League Baseball. In addition to del Rosario, the Braves lost Juan Contreras, Yefri del Rosario, Abrahan Gutierrez, Kevin Maitan, Juan Carlos Negret,Yenci Pena, Yunior Severino, Livan Soto, Guillermo Zuniga and top prospect Kevin Maitan. They also had their deal with Korean shortstop Ji-hwan Bae and were not allowed to sign Robert Puason.

The other free agents have to sign from December 5 to January 15 and cannot re-sign with the Braves until May. Players get to retain their original signing bonus from the Braves, plus whatever teams offer them now. Teams will only have the amount of the signing bonus beyond $200,000 count towards their international signing bonus pool.