Atlanta to sign 19 international players

Johnny Almaraz

The Braves have agreed to contracts with 19 international players.

The Braves have reached an agreement with 19 international players. Several deals will not be announced until the players have had their physicals.

Johnny Almaraz, the Braves’ director of international scouting, said the Braves placed an emphasis on power hitters this year.

“It’s something that as we were scouting we saw these kids that had that hitting ability in combination with raw power,” Almaraz said. “These kids have the ability to generate power. We wanted to make sure we were aggressive.”

The Braves top signee was Juan Yepez, who is from Caracas, Venezuela. Reports have had the Braves paying $1 million for Yepez, who they are projecting as a corner outfielder even though he has played a lot at third base.

Yepez is 16 years old and is 6-2, 190 pounds. He has an average arm and is an average runner, but his biggest asset is big-time power.

Almaraz said, “He’s a good hitter. He’s a guy with good hitting ability and above average power for a 16-year old. I mean above average raw power.

Several reports have questioned Yepez’s body-time, but Almaraz shot down that talk.

“The guy is a specimen,” Almaraz said. “He’s a big strong guy. There’s nothing wrong with his body type. He’s a very polished kid for his age. We felt he was the best bat internationally this year.”

Here is the list of the other top signees for the Braves.

Jan Patrick Guerrero - 1B – Dominican Republic – 6-3, 195 – 17 years old – LHH/R
“He reminds me of Freddie Freeman,” Almaraz said. “He’s the spitting image of him. Good power. Very athletic kid. He’s just another hitter, another polished hitter.”

David Sacaria – OF – St. Thomas, Virgin Islands – 6-4, 220 – 17 years old – RHH/R
“We signed him out of the Dominican Republic. He has a relative that is Dominican. A big kid. He’s got big-time power,” Almaraz said.

Grendis Ferrer – OF – Dominican Republic – 6-3, 200 – 17 years old – RHH/H
“He has tools,” Almaraz said. “He can run and has big-time pop. He’s just another power-type bat who has above average running ability and an above average arm.”

Deyvis Julian – RHP – Dominican Republic – 6-2, 185 – 16 years old
Almaraz thinks this is an under-the-radar guy that has the potential to be a potential front-line starting pitcher in the majors. “He throws 90-94 mph and has the makings of a curve and change. I think he’ll have three or four really good pitches. He’s got a power arm.”

Luis Alonzo - C – Panama – 6-1, 175 – 17 years old – RHH/R
“He’s a good receiver and he has a short compact stroke at the plate,” Almaraz said. “He’s got a (Christian) Bethancourt-type body. Right now he’s got doubles power, but he’ll fill out physically and get bigger. “

Luis Olmos – SS – Panama – 5-11, 165 – 16 years old – RHH/R
“He’s just an average runner, but he’s got a good swing and will become a good hitter,” Almaraz said. “He has great hands, a good arm. Just a good defensive player.”

Bredio Vega – RHP – Panama – 6-2, 185 – 17 years old
“Another power arm who throws 90-93 mph,” Almaraz said. “He’s got a good slider and change.”

Alan Rangel – RHP – Mexico – 6-2, 185 – 16 years old
“We’re projecting him to have three above-average pitches, “Almaraz explained. “He’s a number three type starter one day. He’s got a good curve and change. He throws 88-90 mph.”

Most of the other signees for the Braves will be low-dollar players that might cost between $5,000-$25,000. But don’t discount these players. Current prospects Elmer Reyes and Williams Perez did not get very big signing bonuses and they are now two of the top prospects in the Atlanta system.


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