The July 2nd IFA signing window officially opens at 9:00am EDT on Tuesday morning. Our beloved Giants can spend up to $1.9099M total in bonuses during this 11.5 month long IFA signing period. In addition, if they're willing to pay a 75% tax penalty on the amount they spend over $1.9099M then they can spend up to an additional $95.495K.
At this point last year, the Giants surprised all of us here on the MCC, and all of the national baseball publications and websites, by making a big splash on July 2nd. They signed Gustavo Cabrera for $1.3M and Nathanael Javier for $475K in the morning hours of July 2nd. The Cabrera signing was especially surprising as the Giants weren't linked to any of the top 20, or so, IFA prospects and he was ranked anywhere from around the 6th to the 14th best overall prospect in the IFA class last year. The Giants had stayed away from the 7 figure contracts being thrown around between 2009 and 2012, because they felt that the market was increasingly overpriced as each year rolled around. They also probably were feeling a bit cautious after not getting much return for the large 7 figure bonuses that they paid to Angel Villalona and Rafael Rodriguez back in 2006 and 2008. I believe that the Giants correctly saw that the new bonus cap limits that went into effect last July 2nd would dramatically decrease the amount of bonuses the top-rated IFA prospects would be able to demand. Because the bonuses were likely to drop so dramatically, they jumped back into the top level of the market with gusto. Whether or not you agree with the signing of Cabrera, everybody has to agree that if there had been no bonus cap then it would have taken at least $2M to sign him - if not as much as $3M - under the previous no limit rules.
So, what will the Giants do this year? I'll stick my neck out and predict that they won't go after one of the top 10 rated prospects, but will likely go after and sign a 2nd-tier prospect for something in the $800K-$1M range. That's because the amount of money in the bonus pools for the teams with the 10 worst records is significantly greater than the amount of money for the teams with the 10 best records in 2012. For example, as the team with the 5th best record the Giants have a bonus pool of $1.9099M, while the Indians, with the 5th worst record, can spend up to $3.636M without being penalized. That's over a 90% difference in total. It would likely take close to the Giants entire bonus pool to sign one of the top 3-5 prospects on the market, and I don't think that the Giants will think that's a wise move. As I noted above, I predict that the Giants will make one semi-splashy signing in the $800K-$1M range. I also think they'll take a fairly well-known prospect, perhaps ranked near the bottom of the top 50 for around $300K-$400K. These signing will almost surely take place within the first 10 days of the July 2nd opening if not within the first 48 hours. Then, between the middle of July and the end of next January they'll likely sign around 10 more prospect for between $5K and $200K and end up spending a total of about $1.7M on IFAs for the entire 11.5 month cycle when all is said and done.
The Giants have been linked to 3 prospects by Baseball America: Mikey Edie (CF - Venezuela), Kevin Beltre (SS) and Manuel Geraldo (SS). I don't Know anything about the 2 shortstops and I can't find any specific scouting info on them, but I do have a lot on Mikey Edie:
Mikey Edie: CF, RHH, Venezuela (6', 165) DOB=7/3/97
Edie can't officially sign a contract until after midnight, July 2nd, as he doesn't turn 16 until July 3rd (this Wednesday). Edie's connection to the Giants appears very strong. Our own sfgiantsgirl has been following twitter activity between Edie and current members of the DSL Giants minor league team (Edie's account handle is @mIKEy_edie) and has previously commented that he's already been spending time at the DSL Giants training camp and rooming with guys on the current DSL Giants roster and owns a bunch of Giants clothes, caps and assorted paraphenalia. Edie is a potential 5-tool player along the lines of Gustavo Cabrera, the Giants top IFA signee last July. Edie doesn't have the same elite level speed (6.7 sec 60 yard dash vs. 6.36 sec. for Gustavo), defense (Edie needs to learn how to get better reads and jumps in CF) and power potential of Gustavo (20 HR peak potential vs. > 30 peak potential for Gustavo), and Edie doesn't generate the plus bat speed that Gustavo did as a 16 year old - although Edie does do a better job of keeping his hands inside the ball and driving it to the RCF gap. Edie also has a leg up on Gustavo in that he has a better hit current hit tool and he has already performed at elite levels during international competitions held around the world over the last 4 years. In fact, Edie brings with him a wealth of international baseball experience on a large scale. He's been playing for Venezuela at national tournaments around the world since he was 12 years old. He played in the Little League World Series in Williamsburg back in 2009, the Junior League World Series in 2011 (held in Michigan) and the 15 & under Baseball World Cup held in Mexico back in August of last year. Edie has been one of the top performers in all of these big-stage tournaments, as both a hitter and a pitcher. Edie has a lean frame and wiry strength, but should add at least another inch or two in height and al least another 20 pounds in mass over the next 5 years. Edie has trained at the prestigious Carlos Guillen Academy down in the D.R. in the past year and the Giants signed Hengerber Medina and Kleiber Rivas out of that Academy back in late 2011/early 2012. Edie isn't ranked in BA's top 30 prospect list, but here's what they wrote on him a few weeks back:
"A third outfielder with Guillen, Mikey Edie, has been connected to the Giants. Edie, who also turns 16 on July 3, traveled to Williamsport, Pa., to play for Venezuela in the Little League World Series in 2009. He has developed into one of the best athletes and fastest runners in Venezuela this year, with excellent speed and quick-twitch actions. At 6 feet, 165 pounds, Edie has the tools to project as a center fielder, but his right-handed bat and baseball instincts will need time to catch up."
VID1: BP (Fall 2012): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcT7UQmSLMM
VID2: BP (Fall 2012): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaYBhCzjzG8
VID3: OF drills (Fall 2012): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6ctXjA1ONY
Finally(!), here are my current favorites for the Giants from the guys that I think will bring them the most value for their money. This isn't meant to be anything close to a complete list like the one I do for the June 4th draft, but these are the handful of guys that really caught my eye:
Carlos Hiciano: 3B/RF, RHH, D.R. (6’2″ 175) DOB 10/29/96
Ranked as the #17 overall prospect by BA. Plus arm, plus speed, plus frame, plus athleticism and, though he's raw at the plate, he flashes a good feel for hitting. On top of that, even though he's currently very skinny, he's already developed noticeable strength in his frame. He's a raw infield defender, which knocks him down at least 1 peg from the top-10 prospect range, but even if he never develops the hands to play 3B, he has more than enough speed, arm and athleticism to develop into an above average defender in RF. DPL prospect page with video: http://dplbaseball.com/scouts-corner/carlos-hiciano-ss-2013/
Bryan Lizardo: 3B, SWH (throws RH), D.R. (6'1" 185) DOB=7/26/97
Trainer: Fausto Garcia
It's important to remember that Lizardo can't officially sign a contract with any team until he turns 16 on July 26th. On the positive side, that means that he's one of the youngest kids in this IFA signing class. Most evaluators peg Lizardo as easily the best defender at any position in this year's IFA class. He has the soft hands, excellent footwork, above average range and a strong and accurate arm to be at least a fringe-plus defensive 3B in the pros. He's solidly built and looks nearly physically mature, so I wouldn't think he has much physical projection left in him. That being said, he already has the body and more than enough strength to play pro ball right now. Lizardo has well above average raw power - especially hitting LH. Two separate reports mentioned that scouts would like to see Lizardo give up switch-hitting and swing only from the left side, so that's something to worry about if he won't agree to make the move to a LHH only. In addition, when you get Caribbean kids that look as physically mature as he does you also have to worry that he's actually older than his stated date of birth. Hopefully, MLB has already given his DOB their stamp of approval. DPL prospect page with video:
Lewin Diaz: 1B/LF, LHH, D.R. (6’4, 210) DOB=9-19-96
Trainer: William Valdez
Ranked as the #15 overall prospect by BA. This kid's swing and body-type look so much like Ryan Howard to me that it's spooky. He's already a big guy, but he's not out of shape and he does show good athleticism, so I don't think he's going to end up fighting his weight and fitness level in the coming years a la AnVil. The PG report does note that he's one of the best in-game power hitters in the entire DPL this season. DPL prospect page with video:
Johnny Sims: OF, RHH, D.R. (6’3″ 180) DOB 10/29/96
I like his hitting mechanics and he reportedly has a good approach at the plate. He's a well above average runner (6.64 in 60) and shows above average arm strength. If he ever grows into his body and learns to harness his raw power then the upside is huge for this potential 5-tool athlete. DPL prospect page with video:
Luis Enrique Barrios: LHP, Colombia (6'2" 194) DOB=3/4/97
Trainer: Javier Diaz Montano
Great frame and loose and easy delivery for this very young lefty. You should get physical projection and big upside with him. I see a clean and relatively repeatable delivery in his bullpen session. He already has a very solid mechanical base to work with so you're basically betting that you can teach him how to consistently spin a breaking ball and throw an offspeed pitch. His fastball has reportedly touched 92 mph already and you can see that he gets some late movement on it. Barrios is quite inexperienced in terms of pitching against a decent level of competition, but on the plus side he doesn't have a lot of high-stress inning on his arm.
VID: Bullpen session - Sept. 2012: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=RxrdLQ_hIT4