As previously reported by MMN, the New York Mets are currently the front-runners to sign 17-year-old Venezuelan catcher Francisco Alvarez when the international free agent signing period begins. If the Mets are able to sign the catcher, they will be getting one of the more talented players available this year.
In fact, Baseball America rated Alvarez as the ninth best international prospect and the second-best catching prospect available to be signed. In ranking him ninth best overall, Baseball America said:
Alvarez has a short, explosive stroke that produces above-average raw power, with the power translating in games. He has an advanced hitting approach for his age, driving the ball well to the middle of the field and the opposite way. His ability to track pitches well enables him to let the ball travel deep before making a decision to swing. Alvarez moves surprisingly well underway given his blocky build, with a tick below-average speed. The biggest risk factor scouts point to with Alvarez is his defense. He has above-average arm strength that doesn’t always play up to its full grade but should with more experience.
At the moment, it has not been reported how much of a bonus the Mets are expected to give Alvarez
In addition to Alvarez, the Mets are also expected to sign 17-year-old Dominican outfielder Freddy Valdez. The tall outfielder was rated as the 29th best prospect available by Baseball America, who said this about the player:
Valdez jumped out early in the scouting process for his size and power. He’s one of the most physical players in the class, with his game built around his strength and physical maturity. His best tool is his raw power, which should become at least a plus tool. Valdez has a power-over-hit offensive profile. When Valdez keeps everything in sync, he can drive the ball with authority, something he did early in the scouting process.
When the signing period opens, it is expected Valdez will receive a $1.5 million signing bonus from the Mets. To put it in perspective, the Mets gave OF Adrian Hernandez the same signing bonus last year.
In total, the Mets are expected to have $4.9 million available to sign international free agents this year. With Valdez receiving $1.5 million of it, it will be interesting to see how much of the remaining $3.4 million Alvarez receives, and how the Mets allocate the remaining bonus money.