SF Giants news: International prospect Diego Velazquez signing rumored
Information linking the San Francisco Giants to top international free agent prospect Diego Velaquez is beginning to leak out.
According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, the San Francisco Giants are favorites to sign shortstop prospect Diego Velazquez out of Maracay, Venezuela, when the July 2 international signing period begins.
The details regarding the July 2 international signing period have been sparse. In March, MLB and the MLB Player’s Association agreed to push back the start of the signing period to as late as January 15, 2021. Though, the signing period could begin on time as well.
In addition to this, MLB has not yet released the bonus pool space allocated to each team. Teams are expected to have similar spending limits as they had in the 2019-2020 signing period.
If this holds true, the Giants would have in the neighborhood of $5.4 million to spend on bonuses. This sounds like a lot of money to replenish a farm system, especially considering that some prospects receive a signing bonus for as low as $15,000 (Hello, Reyes Moronta.)
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Of course, the Giants have proven recently that they can exceed their allocated bonus pool space all on one prospect. This occurred when the team reeled in top middle infield prospect Lucius Fox in 2015 for a massive $6 million bonus.
This signing alone pushed the Giants into the penalty for the next two signing periods.
With that being said, San Francisco will not likely make the same move if and when they come to terms with Diego Velazquez.
Based on Sanchez’s rankings, Velasquez ranks as the 21st best prospect in this year’s class. For reference, the Giants signed the 23rd best prospect, Esmerlin Vinicio, in last year’s class for $800,000.
So, Velazquez will receive a substantial signing bonus, but it alone will not push the Giants near the threat of entering the penalty. They should have enough financial wherewithal to bring in more prospects.
Until the signing period officially begins, the connection between team and player is speculative. Teams often establish handshake agreements with prospects well in advance of the signing period, and oftentimes, rumored connections turn out to be true.
As a 16-year-old prospect, scouting reports on the middle infielder are limited, but Jesse Sanchez provided some good nuggets on the Venezuelan native (link above):
"“Velazquez is a glove-first, defense-oriented player, but make no mistake, he’s an athletic well-rounded player with a projectable body. His defense is just a bit more advanced than the rest of his game at the moment. …At the plate, Velazquez might be a better hitter from the left side of the batter’s box, but makes consistent, hard contact from both sides. He has a real understanding of the strike zone and has gained a reputation for his approach and ability to work the count.”"
The tools the 16-year-olds boasts sound similar to former Giants infielder Ehire Adrianza. Similar to Adrianza, Velazquez is a polished infielder who bats from both sides of the plate.
The switch-hitting Adrianza has gone on to carve out a nice career for himself with the Minnesota Twins, so that is not a bad outcome at all for Velazquez.
However, a couple of notes from Velazquez’s scouting report stand out:
- He has an athletic, well-rounded form while playing in the middle of the field
- He has an understanding of the strike zone and demonstrated the ability to work the count
On the first note, since being hired as team president of baseball operations, Farhan Zaidi has made it a point to bring in athletic, middle infielders that the Giants can move around the field. Infielder Mauricio Dubon is an example of an energetic player at the major league level, but there are more examples in the minor league ranks as well.
On the second note, strike zone awareness and plate discipline are tools that the Giants are seeking as part of their player development program. The Los Angeles Dodgers believe these tools can mold prospects into good hitters, and Zaidi likely is bringing this approach to the Giants as well:
So, while baseball remains on hiatus, bits of information are beginning to emerge to the surface. Rumors of the season’s return are percolating, and it seems more likely today than it did three weeks ago that baseball will return in 2020.
On top of this, the Giants appear poised to bring in a top international prospect as they continue to rebuild their farm system.
It will be years before we know if Velazquez becomes a solid contributor, but the tools he possesses are appealing. Until then, at least there is some Giants news to discuss and analyze.