Back in the J.P. Ricciardi days, the Blue Jays pulled all sorts of resources out of what was once a really important talent pipeline for the club: Latin America. The history of Blue Jays baseball is full of incredible players signed and developed out of those countries — George Bell, Tony Fernandez, and Juan Guzman from the Dominican Republic, for example, or Carlos Delgado, who is from Puerto Rico, and was signed from there just before MLB decided to include Puerto Rican players in the draft, beginning in 1989 — but because of a lack of resources early on in Ricciardi’s tenure, and because players so young took so long to develop and had so much less data on them to parse than the college players J.P. Moneyball preferred at the time, the team largely withdrew from that pool. When Alex Anthopoulos took over as GM, he immediately began to ramp up the club’s Latin American operations — a strategy that Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins (formerly Cleveland’s director of Latin American operations) have continued to good effect.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., signed on AA’s watch, is obviously the real gem of the last half-decade — maybe even the last decade or longer — but there have been some pretty big successes on the current regime’s watch as well. Lourdes Gurriel’s signing last year was an obvious win for the club in the region, Brazilian pitcher Eric Pardinho seemed a nice pickup this July 2nd, and according to a fresh report from Ben Badler of Baseball America, it sounds like they may be set to sign another top-end youngster next summer, Orelvis Martinez.
“The expectation in the international scouting world is that Martinez will be the top-paid player this year on July 2, with the Blue Jays the favorites to sign him,” Badler explains, before noting his “easy power” at the plate, and countering the good with the fact that, though he will likely start as a shortstop, he will likely end up too big and slow for the position.
Of course, this doesn’t exactly mean he’s all but signed, but handshake commitments do tend to be made as much as a year in advance of July 2nd, so it’s at least possible that the race for his signature is over.
Here is some two-year-old video of Martinez:
I don’t know! Sure!