Recently here on Halos Heaven, our very own Turk's Teeth posted an article on Baseball America that ranked the international spending budgets of all 30 MLB teams. It was sad, although extremely anticipated, to find out that our hallowed baseball club came in dead last. Dead last in farm system rankings, and dead last in international signings. Bummer.
The topic typically leads to lively discussions, usually colorful in language, and descriptively harsh towards to the front office monolith, the current/former GM or Arte Moreno himself. The fact is hard to accept: with all of their posturing towards getting big names, and being consequently burned by it, in Arte Moreno's ownership reign, they've grossly neglected a deep international talent pool.
It's frustrating because the money and resources are there, all while you see other teams claiming baseball stud spoils of the international signing war. They've had various GMs, yet the same results. So what is their plan? What are they doing, if anything, on the international front? Ben Badler went a little deeper in a Baseball America piece today and there were definitely some nuggets of interest regarding the current state of the Angels' international signings
The article explains a bit about what hamstrung the Halos in the first place, and if you've been paying attention, you'll already know that it was the $8,000,000 signing of Roberto Baldoquin that sank all their pool money, and put them in the international signing penalty box last season and this upcoming season. Because of the Baldoquin signing, they'll only be able to make pool-eligible signings of $300,000 or less. The good news is that wont last much longer. The bad news? Well, where to start.
They only had so much pool money to play with after finishing with the best record in baseball in 2014. They had $1,968,600, starting with a base amount of $700,000 and the rest was comprised of four different slot values. So, they could have spent on international talent, regardless of their low pool allotment AND their restriction to nothing more than $300,000. But what'd they do? Well:
They then proceeded to trade away all four slot values, leaving them with just $700,000 in their bonus pool (that amount can’t be traded). They sent their top two slot values (a combined $879,500) to the Rangers for 23-year-old low Class A righthanded reliever Jason Hoppe. They sent their No. 3 slot value ($239,400) to the Mets for 24-year-old low Class A righthanded reliever Gaither Bumgardner and their No. 4 slot value ($149,700) to the Cubs along with lefthander Manuel Rondon in exchange for 27-year-old catcher Rafael Lopez. None of those players rank among the Angels’ Top 30 prospects in the game’s worst-ranked farm system.
Aint that a kick in the head?
If we're looking for a guy to keep an eye on, Badler does mention one: Reyember Mendoza. Mendoza is a 17 year old righty who cost the Angels $200,000. He's from Venezuela, stands 6'1 175lbs, and supposedly has a good curve ball and velocity around the 92mph mark.
There's also Venezuelan righty Wilkel Hernandez. He's 16 years old, 6'4 160 lbs, and is described as athletic with a good fastball. He came in at $125,000. There's a mention of Dominican pitcher Hector Yan; a left hander with a good breaking ball and who signed for $80,000. Lastly, Baseball America mentions Dominican Yefry Santana, a guy they got in 2015 for $10,000. He's a 6'1, 170lb, athletic, speedy center fielder who broke his arm last year, but when healthy, has had some success in the DSL. So there you go, folks. Those are your international signings to get hyped about.
Now, all of these guys are SUPER young, so it's about as "wait and see" as you can get, but it's...something? Obviously, the hitch in their giddyup is the fact that literally wasted a large swath of their international pool last year by trading it away as slot values, and in return they got a whole bunch of guys who can't make a name for themselves in the worst system in baseball. That means they aren't very good...and the Angels got buttercupped.