The first two days of the international signing period are in the books, and the Boston Red Sox have already made quite the splash.
Forty-eight hours into the 2014-2015 signing period, and 26 of MLB.com's Top 30 international prospects have signed with teams. Two of these players, Anderson Espinoza and Christopher Acosta, have signed with the Red Sox, according to Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe, marking one of their more aggressive international spending sprees in recent years.
Between Espinoza and Acosta, the Red Sox have already spent $3.3 million—a good deal more than their $1.88 million signing bonus allotment for this year. The heavy overspend means the Red Sox will face a 100 percent tax on their overage and will not be able to sign any player for more than $300,000 over the next two international signing periods.
However, the talent they've added with Espinoza and Acosta is significant, and this binge approach to international acquisition under the new CBA is something we're likely to see teams try more often moving forward.
Ranked by Baseball America as the best pitcher in the class and the fourth-best prospect overall, Espinoza is a right-hander with a slight frame who already hits 94 mph as a 16-year-old. The Venezuelan is praised for his "loose delivery" and "advanced secondary stuff," and his changeup in particular draws rave reviews. Given Espinoza's arm action and frame, he's also projected to see an uptick in velocity as he ages.
As Marc Normandin of Over The Monster notes, the Red Sox have a habit of acquiring prospects who've participated in national and international tournaments, as Espinoza has in the past.
Acosta ranked at No. 11 on Baseball America's list and No. 6 on MLB.com's list, and he represents another high-upside acquisition. The right-hander is listed at 6'3" and 180 pounds, and he touches the low 90s with a promising fastball. He also features a curveball and a changeup. BA's Ben Badler (subscription required) also praises his command.
Like Espinoza, Acosta's frame and arm action suggest the ability to add velocity as he ages. Scouts praise his clean mechanics, and while the Red Sox are generally very conservative with their young players, Acosta's current size and skill could allow him to move a bit more quickly than many other international arms.
There's always a tremendous amount of risk associated with signing 16-year-old pitchers, and there are tons of high-upside international arms who flame out every year. But grabbing two of the top pitchers in a class is exciting, and Espinoza and Acosta give the Red Sox more high-upside players to add to their impressive crop of talent in the low minors.
When you factor in Rafael Devers, whom the Red Sox signed for $1.5 million last year, this is an organization that's added a tremendous amount of talent from the international scene in the past 12 months.
While the Red Sox aren't linked to any more of the premier international players out there, that doesn't mean they're done adding talent to their system. The Sox also agreed to sign Dominican shortstop Elwin Tejada for $300,000 Wednesday, and they'll likely sign many more lesser-known prospects in the coming days.
These types of moves won't garner many headlines, but Xander Bogaerts signed for $510,000 out of Aruba in 2009.
In other words, it's smart to pay attention to the nonelite guys the Red Sox walk away with, as well as the blue-chippers like Espinoza and Acosta.