There’s truly no other time where watching videos of 16 year old kids is more appropriate. In fact to call J-2 signing enthusiasts the pedophiles of the prospect world wouldn’t be totally inaccurate. Each year around this time we discuss dozens of Latin players between the ages of 16-20, from a variety of countries. The rules are a bit confusing to the average baseball fan. So I’ll break them down a bit and explain the differences between signing a player like Kevin Maitan, and signing Yulieski Gourriel. I’ll also list some of the names to be aware of, and give you a brief description of what I know about each. Most of these guys are 5+ years away from making an impact, and some might even be a year away from stepping foot on a pro ball field. This is best exemplified by players from last season’s J-2 period, like Eddy Julio Martinez and Yadier Alvarez. So these are names to be aware of, but I’d; A. Temper expectations, particularly in the short term and B. Discount their value accordingly in Dynasty first year player drafts, when ranking them against more polished college and prep players. In other words, always check ID.

 

The J-2 vs Cuban Rules

This is an element of the July 2nd international signings period that causes a great deal of confusion for those looking to follow along, but not well versed in the ins and outs of the period. First and foremost there’s a significant difference between players like Kevin Maitan and more established Cuban players like the Gourriel’s. Players like Maitan, or even a younger Cuban prospect like Lazarito Armenteros are subject to restrictions regarding when they can sign a professional contract. True international amateurs like these are allowed to sign after July 2nd until the following June, with the only stipulation being that they are 17, or turn 17, before the end of the first year of said contract. Teams are more restricted in terms of their bonus pools on these players, where there’s a limited amount of resources each team is allotted over the course of several years. For example the Red Sox, Dodgers, and Yankees, all have a very limited pool this year after being heavy players in recent year’s J-2s.

As for established professional Cuban players the rules are much more straightforward. Players like Yulieski Gourriel, who are 23 years of age or older, and with more than 5 years of experience in the Serie Nacional (Cuban League) are eligible to sign with any team with zero restrictions on contract amount, and teams signing these players are not limited by any sort of bonus pool. The only stipulation is that these players have established residency in a country besides the US and Cuba, and upon establishing said residency will be declared free agents.

The Players

For our purposes, today I’m just going to look at the players subject to the international bonus pool. We’ll do a follow up on the non-pool Cubans as they sign.

Kevin Maitan, SS/3B Venezuela: At this point we should all be pretty well versed in who Maitan is. A 16 year old Venezuelan infielder, with plus plus power, and hit tool. Has drawn comps to Miggy and Chipper Jones, believed to be headed to Atlanta. I wrote my fantasy about him here.

Vladimir Gutierrez, RHP Cuba: Am I the only one still amused by Cubans with Slavic first names? Anyone? Anyone?….Nothing! Okay moving on, Gutierrez is considered by many to be the best arm in this international class. He mixes three pitches, that include a plus plus fastball, a plus hook, and an average change. Many consider Gutierrez to be a superior prospect to last year’s top arm Yadier Alvarez.

Luis Almanzar, SS Dominican Republic: Almost universally viewed as the top Dominican player in this J-2 crop, Almanzar is a power hitting middle infielder with an excellent set of tools. Many evaluators rate both his power and hit tool at 60 on the 80 scale. Little aside on the 80 scale, no one almost ever gets an 80. He’s only 16, but he’s a true potential 5 tool shortstop.

Lazaro “Lazarito” Armenteros, OF Cuba: The buzziest name of this class might not be the well-known Maitan but actually Lazarito. There’s been a lot of weird happenings in the background with agent switches, death threats, and other non-sense. I won’t discuss that here, you have google for that. What I will discuss is his supposed skill set. I say supposed because unlike American Prep prospects a majority of the evaluations are coming from workouts and such. There’s some debate as to what tools he possesses, but there’s no doubt about his speed, athleticism, and raw power. As for his hit tool and ability to stick in the middle of the field, time will tell.

Gabriel Arias, SS Venezuela: The other top prospect from Venezuela is a natural ball player with good instincts at the plate with an advanced approach. At the moment he possesses gap power but scouts think he could eventually mature into an above average power hitter. His speed is sub-par, which could be the reason many view him as a future 3rd baseman, and not a shortstop, his listed position.

Freudis Nova, SS Dominican Republic: One of the top offensive players in this year’s class, Nova has drawn comps to Hanley Ramirez, and it makes sense, on paper at least. He’s an athletic shortstop with the ability to play multiple positions on the field, but the Hanley comps really come from his power/speed mix. Scouts grade both tools at a 60, making him one of the more intriguing options for Dynasty players. Can’t wait for the SuperNova titles from Grey in 2022.

Victor Garcia, OF Venezuela: The highest rated power grade in the class belongs to Garcia and it’s easy to see why. We’re talking 70 grade power, and just huge potential if he can figure out the most important parts of hitting, pitch recognition and approach. At the moment he’s rumored to be the top target of the Cardinals. All of Garcia’s other tools are raw or sub-par, particularly his 20 grade speed….seesh.

Randy Arozarena, OF/2B Cuba: The 21 year old switch-hitting Cuban possesses one of the most complete skill sets in the pool, grading out between 55-60 on all five tools. There are reports that describe Arozarena as one of the more polished players available, and others that describe his fielding as raw. The most encouraging news for us fantasy focused prospectors is no one questions the bat. Shows a good mix of power/speed/approach, if he can stick at 2nd he could be a potential all-star at a historically thin position.

Yasel Antuna, SS Dominican Republic: Many scouts consider Antuna to be the second best player from the DR in this class, a few even rank him ahead of Almanzar. He’s another player with 5 tool potential, and is expected to stick in the middle of the infield. While Almanzar’s power plays up more, Antuna possesses more speed. That’s not to say he’s any sort of slouch with the bat, because make no mistake, he is not. Many view him as the second best switch-hitter behind Maitan. His approach at the plate and ability to recognize pitches also draw rave reviews.

 

Follow me on Twitter @Ralphlifshitzbb

 

 

 
  1. knucks says:
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    Really well done, thanks Ralph

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph LIfshitz says:
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      @knucks: No problem Bumpy Knucks

      • knucks says:
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        @Ralph LIfshitz: Haha Bumpy Knuxxx, you are a straight up G

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @knucks: i’m so gutter, prissy chicks won’t even mess with me

  2. Nice Ralph maybe the Cardinals will get someone without a PED history. any who I need some SP opinions
    Paxton
    Snell
    D.Duffy
    Jimmy Nelson
    12 team 6×6 H2H W/QS
    there isn’t much on the waiver wire that are worth anything are these cats worth rostering or would you say streamers

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Dnut Eastwood: Wow those some solid options. I like Paxton and Duffy the best. Snell’s control worries me a bit.

      • @Ralph Lifshitz: haven’t got up to speed with Smell. I thought Jimmy would be a mid three with a slightly neuter xfip type of guy but was counting on him missing more bats. few years Bali war big on Pax and Duff hopefully they they represent like Lifshitz shop lifftin or coppin a four oh of slitz or st.ides on the side while Grey makes the slide

  3. Yankz1313 says:
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    Hunter Pence or JeanMar Gomez ROS?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Yankz1313: Hmmm a weird comparable. I say Gomez more saves and Pence more DL stints and hits….

  4. Cousin Vinny says:
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    Interested in your thoughts on this deal…

    Harvey/Matz/Desmond for Bryant/VMart.

    I would still have Archer, Carrasco, CarMart in my staff. 10 tm roto.

    Thanks brotha

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Cousin Vinny: Redraft? I like the Bryant side. Deal Matz before the final elbow death blow.

      • Cousin Vinny says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz:
        Redraft indeed – Thanks man

  5. Mike says:
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    Playing for 2017/18 (don’t know if you remember) do I hold guys like Severino, Gausman, Ed Rod, and Bradley? Who are the ones with the most upside? Fantasy dynasty pitching seems like twice the headache as hitters when you start out with a bunch of scrubs from a team you got suckered into buying

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Mike: Gausman and Bradley. All four of those guys are close.

  6. Muskysmell says:
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    In case anyone is curious why all the Russian names for dem Cubans it’s because Cubans were big fanboys of USSR and their Communist ideals back in the day. It’s quite fascinating actually…

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Muskysmell: Yes they were supported by the Kremlin. Obviously still a communist country, makes me laugh nonetheless

  7. Landisimo3 says:
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    Ralph , any of the above worth picking up and stashing over McMahon or Hoffman? Our farm is 10 deep .. 12 team dynasty ..

    I already have Maitan and Lazarito…

    Thanks in advance!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Landisimo3: No I’d maybe keep an eye on these guys if you can move any of your minors in a trade and add more. They’re all very far away.

      For future consideration, in a league like that Gutierrez would be the best add.

  8. Nightpandas says:
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    Hey Ralphie,

    What do you think about this trade ?

    Give Scherzer and Villar

    Get Correa Gausman C Allen

    15 team keep 11, rest of pitching is Harvey Matz Shark McCullers Reed Hill and Davis J Gomez for relievers. Would help me with saves hr Obp and Slg but would weaken my staff quite a bit…currently in second

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Nightpandas: I like it long term, not sure it helps you this year.

      Could you swap Max for Harvey, and at worst take out Gausman?

      • Nightpandas says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: tried Harvey but no dice …..still thinking about it

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @Nightpandas: Good luck!

  9. Jon says:
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    Any idea who the next SS prospects to be called up are? I hover over the drop button on Semien everyday and the wire is bare in a 14 teamer.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Jon: I really still think it’s between Bregman, Turner, and Arcia. At the moment there’s no hope. That can change quick.

  10. S.H says:
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    Hi Ralph, in my 12 team dynasty with free agent pick ups not allowed, SP are more prized. But to my question with Matt Duffy getting hurt and Drury getting sent down by Arizona I am down to zero 3B. I have a guy who is willing to deal Profar or Rendon, He list Mazara, Pollock ,O.Arcia , Glasnow and Velasquez as players of mine that interest him. Who would you prefer out of Profar and Rendon, and who would you be comfortable in dealing.

    thanks

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @S.H: I prefer Profar long term, Rendon may get more at bats this year, and he’s a little safer if you’re competing.

      Velasquez is worst of the group. All the others are hefty prices to pay.

  11. A Wesley Snipes Life says:
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    it’s gotta be an homage to USSR with those slav names.

    • A Wesley Snipes Life says:
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      @A Wesley Snipes Life: what’s odder is all the latins named “germen”

      • Ralph Lifshitz

        Ralph Lifshitz says:
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        @A Wesley Snipes Life: Yeah that’s a weird one.

        It’s 100% a tribute to the USSR, but it’s funny we’re still seeing that today. Funny how it can be accepted into the culture, and then become a part of t generations later.

  12. Alan says:
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    Hey man, how do you know all of this?

    Sorry my question is so simple but in a dynasty rebuild (30 mlb/20 milb/15 teams/keep everyone no prices every year forever), this guy offered me AJ Reed and his first round pick (prob pick No. 11 or 12 in 2017 supp draft) for Jose Abreu

    Supp draft is 2016 mlb draftees and foreign dudes signed after opening day if that matters on the pick.

    Would you do that trade if you had Abreu? I am torn since I am not sure what Abreu is.

    Thanks for your time

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Alan: I read a lot to avoid interaction with other people.

      If you’re rebuilding I’d consider it. I’d shop him to everyone first before settling on that move.

Comments are closed.