The international bonus pools are artificial abominations that use the veneer of competitive balance to steal money from teenagers who were making a lot more money for their families under the old system. That’s a column for another time, but it’s only right to point that out whenever international spending comes up. It’s a gross system, and baseball should be ashamed of itself.
Also, the Giants are attached to one of the better international prospects for next year, which is super rad.
According to Baseball America, the Giants are interested in 15-year-old Marco Luciano, described as one of the top prospects in the Dominican Prospect League. The 6’2” infielder/outfielder was one of the players at the DPL Elite Underclass International showcase, and BA says the Giants are “showing strong interest.”
You might not care about a tidbit like this almost 11 months before the next signing day kicks off, but I will note that these rumors have a way of becoming established truisms before July 2. Baseball America makes a list of the best 30 prospects of each international-signing class, and most of them will have “is expected to sign with the Rays” or some such after their names. It’s completely disappointing. Spoiler warning, guys! Spoiler warning!
And it would be nice if the Giants were one of these teams with their name attached to a top player before the signing could become official. They’re due, at least. While it hasn’t been that long since the Giants broke the bank for an international prospect (Lucius Fox was a big-ticket player), they’ve also been mostly shut out of the last two signing periods. Considering the new Felipe Alou Baseball Academy in Boca Chica, they might want to make some high-profile moves to boost the farm system and the organization’s profile in the Dominican Republic.
As for Luciano, BA wrote this about him:
Luciano, 15, put on a show on the first day at the end of the workout, showing more raw power than any other player in attendance. He drove seven balls out of the park in two rounds of BP, showing a fast, powerful stroke, using his lower half well and generating torque to drive the ball well to all fields.
Power, eh? It’s right-handed power, too. So I’m interested. The biggest caveat I can think of — and I don’t want to make too big a deal over this — is that HE’S 15 YEARS OLD. HE’S YOUNGER THAN AT&T PARK. HE WASN’T ALIVE WHEN BARRY BONDS HIT 73 HOME RUNS. IF HE TAKES TEN YEARS TO REACH THE MAJORS, HE WOULD STILL BE YOUNG ENOUGH TO BE CONSIDERED A PROSPECT. HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY EVALUATE SOMEONE THIS YOUNG AND BURDEN HIM WITH EXPECTATIONS? HE’S 15. JEEZ.
On the other hand, it would be nice for the Giants to sign a premium prospect.
On the other, other hand, this might be grasping at straws a little. Just because a player is highly regarded when he’s 15 doesn’t mean that he’ll be a certain major leaguer when he’s 22. Here’s the top prospect for BA in 2010. He’s 23, and he hasn’t played affiliated baseball since 2015.
On the other, other, other hand, the top three international prospects in 2013 were Eloy Jimenez, Gleyber Torres, and Rafael Devers, all of whom would have been huge additions for the Rays after the Giants traded them for Matt Moore. All three are usually among baseball’s top 10 prospects, regardless of which publication is doing the ranking. When it was time for BA to make predictions about who would go where for that signing class, the Giants didn’t appear in connection with any of the top 30 prospects.
This is their chance to rectify that. Maybe. I don’t know how to separate the Eloys from the Ehires, so I’ll trust the Giants to do that. Well, not trust. But assume they know more than me and scout better than they have been, so if they see Luciano as a special, at-all-costs prospect, they should dive right in.
Here’s something to note, though: The Giants don’t get more money to spend because they’ll have one of the worst records in baseball. That will all be allocated by market size, so the Diamondbacks will probably have an extra million, even if they make the postseason. Which is annoying. But the changes to the CBA mean that draft fever is all we have. Did you know that the White Sox are so bad that they’re in line for the second-overall pick in next June’s draft. Rude!
Long story short: The Giants are linked to a top international prospect, and these rumors usually work on a if-smoke-then-fire basis. It’s not right to get excited yet, but it’s okay to start wondering if the Giants have a big splash planned for the Felipe Alou Baseball Academy and the (hopefully) new era of organizational success in the international market. A signing like Luciano would do nicely.