With July 2--otherwise known as "international signing day"-- quickly approaching, prospects all around the world are perfecting their craft in hopes that they will get a minor league contract from a Major League club.
Cover Those Bases has learned of the agreements of 17 Venezuelan international prospects, per a source with knowledge of the situation.
Other Interesting Notes
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves embarked upon a six-player swap last night. The Dodgers traded infielder Juan Uribe and right-handed pitcher Chris Withrow to the Braves for infielder Alberto Callaspo, left-hander Eric Stults, left-hander Ian Thomas, and right-hander Juan Jaime, the teams announced.
The clubs had reportedly agreed to a deal Tuesday morning, but Callaspo rejected the trade. He was able to reject any trade through June 15 due to signing with the Braves just last offseason. However, Callaspo changed his mind late last night and a deal was put together quite quickly thereafter.
Going to the Braves is Juan Uribe, a 36-year-old third baseman. Uribe had been squeezed out of the Dodgers' starting spot over at the hot corner due to better play from Justin Turner and Alex Guerro, as well as the impending addition of new signee Hector Olivera. In 87 plate appearances this year, Uribe is slashing .247/.287/.309/.596 (67 OPS+) and is making $6.5 million.
Also going to the Braves is right-hander Chris Withrow, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery. Withrow has 56 innings worth of MLB experience, pitching to a 2.73 ERA (3.65 FIP) with a 71 to 31 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Withrow throws hard; he can dial it up to 98 mph, but due to the injury he was expendable.
Alberto Callaspo is the main piece going back to the Dodgers, mostly as some infield depth. Callaspo is a light-hitting infielder with experience at first base, second base, shortstop, and third. With the Braves, Callaspo didn't amount to much, hitting a slash line of .206/.293/.252/.545 (54 wRC+) in 123 plate appearances.
Eric Stults, Ian Thomas, and Juan Jaime all represent pitching depth for the Dodgers. Stults was designated for assignment following the announcement of the trade and is likely to accept his assignment to the minor leagues. Thomas, who was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City, will be stretched out to eventually start for Los Angeles. And Jaime represents a kicker, as he is another hard-throwing intriguing reliever that has had control issues.
Overall, this deal is more of a depth move for both teams, with the Braves unloading some Major League pitchers for a more intriguing minor leaguer (that could help in the long run) and a solution at third base for the rest of the season.
With the Trade Deadline approaching faster than we think, teams are beginning to establish themselves as either buyers or sellers.
One team that is somewhat in the middle is the San Diego Padres, who had the busiest offseason in team history, but have not met expectations with a 20-23 start, sinking down to fourth in the NL West division.
However, GM A.J. Preller is willing to do all within his power to make his team better. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the Padres have scouted the Brewers looking for a shortstop upgrade. They likely do not have the prospects to acquire Jean Segura, but Luis Sardinas could be an option for them, as Preller is familiar with Sardinas from his time in the Rangers' organization.
Thus far this season, the Padres' have been getting negative production from their shortstops. They have slashed .201/.285/.286 and are worth -0.4 fWAR, 27th in baseball.
Sardinas is 22-years-old and would likely be a better shortstop than any option the Padres currently have. He's hitting .288/.324/.386 down in Triple-A and was ranked as high as the 76th-best prospect in baseball via MLB.com.
With the Braves being unimpressed by catcher Christian Bethancourt's performance this season, both offensively and defensively, journeyman A.J. Pierzynski has been getting many of the starts behind the plate. Thus, executives in Atlanta took to the phones to look for an upgrade at backstop.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Braves inquired on Brewers' star catcher Jonathan Lucroy. However, Milwaukee said that Lucroy was unavailable, even though they will not be contending this year following a 16-27 start.
This exchange between the Braves and Brewers is particularly interesting for two reasons. First, the Braves inquiry of Lucroy could mean that they possibly are buyers, even though they dealt many of their veterans away during the offseason to rebuild. Second, the fact that the Brewers weren't even willing to listen on Lucroy could mean that they may not be fully ready to sell.
Lucroy is under contract through next season with a team option for 2017 on an extremely team-friendly deal, so perhaps the Braves or Brewers believe they could contend before his contract is up. If he continues to play like he has, Lucroy's trade value will be just as high next trade season as it is this trade season due to the extra year of team control. Perhaps the Brewers just aren't ready to part with him quite yet, which is totally acceptable.
Lucroy has played in just 12 games this season and has been out since April 20 due to a fractured toe. Last season, Lucroy slashed .301/.373/.465/.837 with 13 homers and 69 runs batted in en route to his first career All-Star appearance.
With the June Draft less than a month away, it's time to start talking about who are sleepers in this draft. These are players who may not be picked in the first or second rounds, but could end up being stars nonetheless.
Joliet Catholic Academy (Joliet, IL) catcher Nick Dalesandro could be one of these players.
Dalesandro is committed to Purdue and is expected to be selected in the Top 10 rounds of this draft, with a possibility of him going in the Top 5.
The St. Louis Cardinals, Detroit Tigers, Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Angels, and Pittsburgh Pirates are among the teams who have scouted Dalesandro, according to a source close to the situation.
Dalesandro is one of the best dual-threats in the nation, both pitching and catching. Other clubs have scouted Dalesandro as a pitcher, though catching appears to be his best position.
Defensively, Dalesandro may be one of the best catchers in the country. He has pop times of 1.80, which is considered to be extremely low. His defense is highly touted by PrepBaseballReport.com:
Defensively...rocket for arm, impresses with easy carry to second base, extremely accurate, threw out runner from knees at third base with right-handed hitter in box (third strike and third out on the pitch)...Elite-level catch and throw prospect...Elite national prospect.
The evaluator at Prep Baseball Report compared Dalesandro's defense to that of Padres' catcher Austin Hedges.
What makes Dalesandro a possibility to be a real steal in this draft is his bat, which was a main question coming into the season. On March 20, when the evaluator at Prep Baseball Report scouted Dalesandro, he hit seven batting practice balls for homers, while showing improved plate discipline and better timing. Dalesandro's bat may be the most underrated part of his game and could make him a top prospect quickly.
Dalesandro has also pitched and some evaluators believe that is where he will end up. He ranges from 90-91 mph on the hill and has hit 92 in the past. He has good breaking pitches and could project to be a Major League pitcher in the future.
The combination of all these aspects of Dalesandro's game make him a draft prospect to keep an eye on as he continues to rise up the draft boards.