The Yankees agreed to terms yesterday with Dominican right-handed pitcher Manolo Reyes, 22, signing the former Braves prospect for a total of $600,000 according to Baseball America’s Ben Badler. While the diminutive right-hander has pitched in professional baseball as a big league farmhand his brief agreement with the Braves was voided less than three years ago, and his eligibility suspended, due to concerns over identification paperwork. Reyes previously made six appearances in the Dominican Summer League for Atlanta’s DSL Braves.
A classic right handed power pitcher in the Pedro Martinez/Roy Oswalt mold, Reyes is 6’1″ and 190 pounds. Believed to be 22, Reyes’ fastball now touches 99 MPH. His raw stuff is quite impressive – he pairs that fastball with a couple of sharp breaking pitches – but control has always been an issue. In 9.2 professional innings, Reyes walked 13 batters. Though Reyes has certainly worked to improve his repertoire, and his command of several strong pitches, there is no substitute for the instruction provided by a Major League farm system and he is decidedly behind the curve. A project – and an old project at that – Reyes is a very high-risk, high-reward signing.
While terms have been agreed to, Reyes contract with the Yankees is contingent not only on MLB approval but on the young pitcher obtaining a visa to play in the United States, which could yet take some time. Major League Baseball challenged the birthdate provided by Reyes several years ago and while it appears he has provided enough documentation to pitch, such processes rarely proceed without a hitch. Nevertheless, the Yankees player development staff will want to get their hands on this talent as soon as possible.
It may seem curious that a team with seemingly so much organizational pitching depth, having recently added several pitchers to the system through trade, draft, and singing, would take a large monetary risk on yet another lottery ticket for the low minor leagues. Yet as Badler points out, the Major League Baseball international singing budget will not take effect until July 2, giving the Yankees enough time to come to an agreement and pump a maximum of funds into their system while they still can.
On a similar note, the Yankes are still said to be interested in Jorge Soler, the 20-year-old Cuban outfielder with enormous potential who has been the hottest name in the international market since the signing of Yu Darvish and Yoenis Cespedes early this year. As of last week, Soler is officially a free agent and a number of teams, including the Pirates, Astros, Phillies, Blues Jays, Red Sox, and Indians, as well as the Yankees have expressed interest. Soler’s agent imposed a deadline for submitting offers, so we should here more on that front in the near future.
We shall see how long the visa process takes, how long it takes for Major League Baseball to approve this signing, and how long it is until Reyes make his debut stateside in the Yankees’ system. The sooner the better, because the time between Reyes’ debut and his ascent to the big leagues could be signficant. It seems there’s a lot of work to be done here, and that’s ok. It never hurts to have a 22-year-old with great stuff in your system. This seems lik a risk worth taking.
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