International Reviews: Boston Red Sox
Top signing: RHP Bryan Mata, Venezuela, $25,000.
Total signings: 6.
The Red Sox were going to be in their second signing period under the penalty of being unable to sign anyone subject to the bonus pools for more than $300,000. Instead, just before July 2, Major League Baseball banned the Red Sox from signing any international amateur players and removed five Venezuelan prospects from their organization as a consequence for what the commissioner’s office determined where “package deals” that circumvented the international signing rules. So after signing 45 international players in 2015, the Red Sox have signed zero players since the 2016-17 signing period opened in July. For the full 2016 calendar year, they did sign six players—that’s still more than the Orioles signed all year—at the end of the 2015-16 period, all for bonuses ranging from $5,000 to $25,000. After having two Dominican Summer League teams previously, the Red Sox will drop down to one DSL team in 2017. With the timing of the penalty, the Red Sox turned their focus to the 2017 class, so expect the Red Sox to be aggressive again on the international market this summer.
While the Red Sox haven’t been able to sign anyone since July 2 last year, they did add a pair of promising arms to the system for cheap bonuses in 2016 in the second half of the 2015-16 signing period. One of those pitchers is 17-year-old Venezuelan righthander Bryan Mata. Mata didn’t sign in 2015 when he became eligible, but Red Sox area scout Alex Requena stayed on him and Boston signed him for $25,000 last year in January. Mata quickly stood out in the DSL, where he had a 2.80 ERA in 61 innings with 61 strikeouts and 19 walks. Mata has a starter profile as a strike-thrower with good size, a sound delivery and feel for three pitches. At 6-foot-3, 170 pounds, Mata has room to fill out and has already added to a fastball that was 87-90 mph when he signed and in the DSL was more consistently in the low-90s, touching 94. His hard curveball and changeup both have average potential to round out his arsenal. A few days before they signed Mata, the Red Sox signed Dominican righthander Joan Martinez for $5,000. Martinez, 20, was touching 94 at the time but by the time the DSL was underway, he was consistently registering in the mid-90s and peaked at 99 mph. He’s a power reliever at 6-foot-3, 195 pounds with big hands, good extension and finish to his pitches with a hard slider. He worked exclusively out of the bullpen in the DSL last year, posting a 1.88 ERA with a 26-7 K-BB mark in 28.2 innings and nine saves.