The Tampa Bay Rays made a splash in the international free agent market this July, inking arguably the top prospect on this year’s market in Adrian Rondon as well as another solid player in Jesus Sanchez. To do so they went 15% over their allotted bonus value, meaning they forfeited the ability to sign players for more than $300k in the next two international signing periods. It seemed that the Rays were done on the international market after these signings, however they have made another splash by signing 16-year old Venezuelan left-hander Francisco Sanchez for $675k per Ben Badler of Baseball America.
The Rays love left-handers that can throw hard, and that is what they are getting in Sanchez. His fastball sits in the low-90′s and has touched 94, but at 6’1”, 180 pounds he should add muscle and velocity as he matures. As with many international signees, his secondary stuff and command remain fairly raw. He throws a curveball and a changeup and will likely continue throwing those two pitches given the Rays’ organizational preference. Both have flashed good potential but remain inconsistent. Sanchez doesn’t repeat his delivery particularly well, and that is what leads to some command issues. However he is athletic, so as he adds muscle that is an issue that should be fixable. All-in-all Sanchez appears to have the potential to be a topflight starter in the big leagues, but he is a long, long way from getting there.
From a pure financial standpoint, this is a significant investment for the Rays. Because they had already passed the 15% threshold prior to Sanchez’s signing, they will have to pay a 100% tax on his bonus. Essentially, signing Sanchez is costing the Rays $1.35 million, so they clearly think highly of him. That is by no means a small amount for the cost-constrained Rays.
The Rays system is having a bit of a down year compared to year’s past, but the team is doing the best they can to change that. After already splurging on the international market, the Rays went out and signed another promising player in Francisco Sanchez who could help return the minor league system to its glory days.