Monday, July 02, 2012

Your 2012 Giants: International Free Agent Signing Day

The Giants made a big splash today by signing two top prospects, Gustavo Cabrera and Natanael Javier.

BA's Announcement on Cabrera, who they ranked #5:
Dominican center fielder Gustavo Cabrera, the fifth-ranked international prospect for July 2, has signed with the Giants for $1.3 million. 
Cabrera, who is 6 feet, 190 pounds, is a 16-year-old righthanded hitter who stands out for his tools and athleticism. Several scouts believe Cabrera has the best tools in Latin America, though his bat is the main question mark. He played in the Dominican Prospect League and trained with Christian Batista, who is known as “Niche.”
ESPN's pre-signing article noted: "Cabrera is a five-tool center fielder who has been evaluated by all MLB clubs, but sources say he agreed to an offer weeks ago and it will be announced next Monday."  Apparently the Giants were the ones who had him eyeballed already.   This sounds almost like the Villalona signing where the Giants had developed the relationship long ago and won the trust of the family. ranked Cabrera #1:
Cabrera has dazzled scouts with his bat speed, hitting mechanics and raw power, but he has also opened eyes with his instincts on the bases. In other words, he can run, too. His all-around speed combined with his aggressive style, strong arm and athletic body have brought about comparisons to Arizona outfielder Justin Upton when he was the same age. 
Cabrera’s prior experience in the United States could prove to be an advantage in his development. Last year, he was named the MVP at the 2011 RBI World Series in Minnesota and also participated in a showcase in Orlando with his trainer. This year, he starred in the Dominican Prospect League and was part of the league’s All-Star travel squad that played exhibition games and participated in showcases at big league sites in Arizona and Florida during Spring Training. 
The biggest knock on Cabrera is the notion that he only has one gear: full speed. He is still harnessing his skills and working on the fine art of playing under control.
BA's note on Javier, who was not in their Top 20 ranking:
The Giants have agreed signed 16-year-old Natanael Javier from the Dominican Republic for $475,000. 
Javier, 16, is a big-framed third baseman at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds. A righthanded hitter, Javier was named the MVP of the Dominican Prospect League's PG International Series all-tournament game last month when he went 3-for-3 with a double. He trains with Basilio Vizcaino, who is known as "Cachaza." ranked Javier #11:
Javier comes from a baseball family. The younger brother of Sony Javier, a prospect with Toronto, and the son of Narciso Tapia, a trainer in the Boca Chica area, baseball is in the young prospect’s blood. 
The big third baseman is considered a solid all-around player and is projected to hit for average and power in the future. He has impressed scouts with his large body frame, lean muscle mass and high baseball IQ. He appears to have the perfect body for third base but might have to move to first base if he gets too big to play the position. 
Some believe Javier is second only to Gustavo Cabrera and Wendell Rijo in terms of upside and overall talent. Javier just might have all the tools Major League scouts look for in a prospect, and he has the potential to be a special bat with plus power. 
Trained by Basilio Vizcaino in Santo Domingo, Javier starred in the Dominican Prospect League and was a member of the league’s All-Star travel squad that at big league camps during Spring Training.
Perfect Games had this note on them from May:
The 2012 DPL class is brimming with talent, and six of the top 10 top international prospects (according to PG scouting reports and rankings) are expected to be in attendance at this event. They include top-ranked outfielder Gustavo Cabrera, along with shortstops Amaurys Minier, Richard Urena and Frandy De La Rosa; middle-infielder Wandell Rijo and third baseman Nathanael Javier. 
Perfect Game had this to say about Cabrera after DPL prospects performed for scouts in a series of workouts and in several games during a tour of Florida and Arizona in March: 
“Cabrera has a tightly wound athletic body reminiscent of Justin Upton. In fact, Cabrera’s tools at the same age are very reminiscent of Upton’s. He ran the 60 in 6.34 seconds in Arizona and has an explosive first step that enables him to steal bases at will (he had 5 steals in one game in Florida) and the aggressiveness and instincts to use his speed. He throws 90-plus mph from the outfield with a very quick release and his speed will give him well above average range at any outfield position.”
So Perfect Games ranked both in their Top 10 and Gustavo their #1 ranked prospect.

Giants Thoughts

Giants swoop in again and make the big signings, making many fans happy, particularly the prospect hounds, like Shankbone. I feel more comfortable with the Cabrera signing, despite its size and the poor history of top international prospects doing well, because he apparently has played games in some of the top U.S. amateur showcases, as noted in the announcement.  That to me would give our scouts better proof points on how his talent compares with other U.S. amateur talents.

The announcement also noted that the Giants spent a total of $1.8M on the two (BA notes exactly ($1.775M).  With a $2.9M cap on spending for all teams, the Giants have $1.125M left to spend on other International free agents.  Given the stat I heard on KNBR today, that 20% of all major leaguers are from the Dominican Republic, the Giants need to be active there and have been, picking up Angel Villalona previously (now playing in the Dominican Summer League) and Rafael Rodriguez (now playing for Augusta and showing some potential there now).

Here is what the announcement said about the two prospects:
From Santo Domingo Norte, Dominican Republic, Cabrera's bat speed, raw power and overall athleticism in the field has brought comparisons to Arizona's Justin Upton. In 2011, Cabrera was named the RBI World Series MVP in Minnesota, and also participated in a showcase in Orlando, Fla. He played in Spring Training exhibition games this year as part of the Dominican Prospect League's All-Star travel squad.
Also from Santo Domingo, the 16-year-old Javier projects as a solid future option at third base. Possessing discipline at the plate, a large body frame and a high baseball IQ, Javier could bypass Chris Dominguez, Conor Gillaspie (Triple-A Fresno) and Adam Duvall (Class A San Jose) as the team's future at third base.

The Giants have always liked players with high baseball IQ.

It was also noted that in future years, the cap will depend on the team's winning percentage and the range will be from $1.7M to $4.8M.  Assuming the Giants will be on the lower end since they should be competitive, they did the right thing to spend so much and dive right in, because they might not have as much spending cap in future years.

Both sound very intriguing and of high potential.  Both appear to have plus power potential and Cabrera appears to have five tools, though his hit tool is most suspect.  Justin Upton appears to be the common comp for Cabrera, bringing a combination of speed and power, plus a great arm.  While Javier got a much lower signing bonus, one noted that he was second only to Cabrera and another player in terms of upside and talent, so that is pretty good, two of the top three players in upside and talent.  And the Giants still have $1.1M to spend on other prospects, so they might not be done yet.


  1. Should also note that the Giants have now signed 8 of the top 10 picks in the draft, and 29 of the total 40. Looks like only Agosta and Williamson left to sign of the Top 10, and they are currently about $55K over slot. I don't know what the hangup is, Agosta was selected around where he was suppose to go, early if anything, Williamson too. Plus Agosta is a Giants fan.

  2. Very happy with these signings. Giants farm system just got a lot stronger.

    The future is bright!

    1. Can't wait till 2019!!

    2. Ha ha ha!!!

      Yes, that would put them around 23. I would think that we would know by 2016-2017 (20-21) whether either of them have a chance of making the majors, as they should be making some noise by then if they are going to something, and would be high enough to get people thinking strongly about that.

      But even for big bonus babies like these, the best approach is to not really think too much about their potential for the majors, but to celebrate their achievements when they happen and credit their youth when they are struggling. When they start getting close enough to the majors that you can taste it is when I start thinking more strongly about them making the majors, or if they get nationally ranked in someone's Top 50-100 prospect list (someone well known, BA, BP, MiLBA,, KLaw).

      I would put these signings up there with getting Stratton in terms of boost to our farm system, making the farm system a lot stronger, as DrB noted.

  3. Worth noting that the DPL and PerfectGame have a business relationship, and that PG will most likely rank the Dominican prospects (where they have an interest) over the VZL guys. Still, its very exciting to grab Gustavo.

    Check this video:

    I've watched it a dozen times over the last month. Its produced by PG/DPL, and its editing out things they don't want you to see, but any guy who motors to third effortlessly and instinctively looks great to me. Fun video to watch, we'll see what happens. I think Cabrera is a special talent.

    Weird that Agosta and Williamson haven't signed. Tella is the only other guy. Maybe they're hedging things with the 3 of them to chop it up.

    Javier looks to be a steady type. I noticed that quote about him having almost as much upside as Cabrera or Rijo as well. Big Boy, nice to have a corner IF prospect as well as the fast twitch OF.

    1. Thanks for noting that relationship, did not realize that. That would influence their ranking in some way.

      However, I had erred in my reading, PerfectGames did not rank the players, at least in that article, they were referring to the's ranking at that point.

      Yes, he sounds like a special talent, but also very similar to Rafael Rodriquez, he was a 5 tool guy when we signed him and he's still figuring things out, though at least in Single-A short-league Salem-Keizer, and he's been OK there, for a 19 YO in a league where the average pitcher's age is 21.5 YO, meaning most players in that league have 2-4 years advantage in competition and level.

  4. Oh, and I figured Cabrera would take a lot more money to land than this, so the Gints having another 1.1MM to do their under the radar stuff as well, that's all good. Get a MI or two, a pitcher or two, and they've got a very nice class. Good point about the money getting light under the CBA.

    I do think they had the relationship sealed already. Got to have steady money flowing down there.

    1. I saw that someone estimated that the new rules would drop the top line bonuses to the $1.5M level, and since Gustavo was ranked #5 by BA, that might explain the $1.3M that the Giants paid. Also, Villalona reportedly passed up a larger signing bonus to sign with the Giants, honoring the relationship the Giants had developed with him since he was 13, so since Cabrera had reportedly already agreed to a contract a month ahead suggests that maybe he did something similar, leaving money on the table to be with the Giants instead.



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