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Top IFA prospect previously expected to sign with Blue Jays this winter won’t sign until 2025

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Ryley Delaney
3 months ago
The Blue Jays may need to wait another season to sign a top international free-agent prospect.
Monday marked the beginning of the 2024 international free agent signing period, and it was expected that the Jays would sign the ninth-best prospect in the class (per MLB Pipeline), shortstop Kennew Blanco.
According to MLB Pipeline, the 16-year-old shortstop is one of the youngest players available to sign. Standing at 6’2”, 160 lb, the Venezuelan native has a “loose stroke” at the dish that allows him to hit the ball to all fields. He won’t turn 17 until June 2024, but he already has impressive bat speed and could easily hit for power as he grows into his frame.
Defensively, the building blocks are there for Blanco to stick at shortstop. The position is a difficult one to master, but he already has good instincts and is athletic enough to stick there. On top of that, his MLB Pipeline bio notes that he has strong fundamental mechanics in terms of footwork and hands. His arm is average at the moment, but it’s loose and gets him to carry on the ball when he throws it. If he doesn’t stick at shortstop, he’ll probably play third base.

Top international prospect Kennew Blanco won’t sign until 2025

The big question is: Why isn’t he signing during this period? It remains unknown, but my belief is that the Blue Jays may need to rework his bonus, thus signing him during the next international period. These types of agreements are in place well before the actual signing date, and losing $500,000 in bonus pool money to sign Chris Bassitt in last winter’s free agency may have also made the Blue Jays shift plans. Of course, this is speculation on my part. 
A similar situation happened with a prospect they signed during last year’s period. Last year, outfielder Junior Arias was a top IFA prospect, according to Fangraphs, for the 2023 period, yet he didn’t sign for another year. It’s likely that Arias was too young to sign during the 2023 period (something that likely isn’t the case with Blanco), but the reasoning isn’t official either.
It’s presumed that Blanco will still sign with Toronto, as his personal Instagram page prominently features Blue Jays apparel, as does his Instagram bio. However, the reasoning as to why he ranked as the ninth-best prospect in this year’s class but hasn’t signed is yet to be confirmed by the team.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D.

ARTICLE PRESENTED BY BETANO

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