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Where Are They Now? Revisiting Players the Braves Lost During IFA Scandal

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The fallout from the sanction that were levied on the Braves was a tough one with 13 players being removed from the organization in 2017.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Atlanta Braves Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The international signing period is coming up and the Braves are in their final year of the tough sanctions that were placed on the organization following the removal of 13 prospects and the banning of former Braves GM John Coppolella. Lets take a look at the class that was removed and see what they are up to today.

Kevin Maitan

The star of the 2017 international signing period, Kevin Maitan was immediately one of the top rated prospects in the organization and was ranked as the #6 prospect in the Braves organization by us behind the names of: Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna, Kolby Allard, Max Fried, and Sean Newcomb - a few names you may have heard about. In 42 games with the Braves, Kevin hit .241/.290/.340 between two levels including a 9 game stint in Orlando where he hit .314/.351/.400.

Upon being declared a free agent, Kevin signed with the Los Angeles Angels where his career hasn’t quite taken off as he hit .248/.306/.397 in 63 games in Rookie ball in 2018, then .214/.278/.323 in 123 games in A-ball. Still just 20 years old, Kevin is considered the Angels 23rd ranked prospect and has been moved from shortstop to floating between third and second base.

Our very own Daniel wrote about Maitan’s performance in the Dominican league here.

Abrahan Gutierrez

At the time of his signing Abrahan was the 25th ranked international prospect and was projected as a starting catcher with great defense and a solid bat with some solid power. Abrahan hit .264/.319/.357 in 35 games for the GCL Braves before his tenure in the organization was over. Abrahan was signed by the Phillies where he hit .315/.362/.407 in 41 games for the GCL Phillies, and then .246/.314/.318 in 83 games in 2019 in A-ball. Abrahan is not considered a top 30 prospect for the Phillies.

Yunior Severino

A switch hitter with a 50 hit tool and 50 power tool given to him at just the age of 18, Yunior was an intriguing prospect because of his bat and not so much his defense. In 10 games for the DSL Braves, Yunior hit .189/.348/.297 before being moved stateside and played 48 games for the GCL Braves where he hit .286/.345/.444. Yunior signed with the Twins organization in 2018 where he hit .263/.321/.424 in the Appalachian league over the course of 49 games. In 2019, Yunior hit a combined .240/.287/.370 in 28 games. He is currently ranked as the number 24 prospect in the Twins organization.

Yenci Pena

Yenci was one of the more under-the-radar signings with a lot of projectability because of his size but was signed with his hit tool graded at 50 with potentially elite defense. Yenci hit .230/.328/.327 in 45 games for the DSL Braves before he was declared a free agent and signed with the Texas Rangers. In the subsequent two years, Pena has grown to 6’2” 193 but hasn’t put it together - hitting .158/.200/.211 in 10 games in 2018, and .244/.352/.374 in 33 games in Rookie Ball. He is not considered a top 30 prospect for the Rangers.

Juan Contreras

Juan was another big bonus signing - originally signing for $1.2M because of his two potential elite pitches with a fastball coming in at 95 MPH and a hard slider. Juan pitched in nine games for the Braves going 2-1 with a 5.95 ERA, and 1.93 WHIP. Juan signed with the Angels and in 2019 appeared in six games, all as a reliever, and compiled a 15.43 ERA in seven innings along with a 2.38 WHIP, and .308 batting average against. Juan was released and has not signed with an MLB team.

Yefri Del Rosario

Yefri was one of the most promising prospects signed because at the time he had a mid-90s fastball and big slider and tons of projectability. In 2017, Yefri appeared in 13 games, eight starts, and had a 3.62 ERA between two levels. In 2018, Yefri signed with the Royals organization and appeared in 15 games for Lexington where he had a 3.19 ERA, 8.2 K/9, and 3.30 BB/9. Yefri did not appear in a game in 2019 but is considered the Royals 23rd ranked prospect.

Livan Soto

Coming in at 5’9” and 140 pounds soaking wet, Livan was an intriguing prospect of his own showing a swing that could hit for average and with solid line drive power while providing solid defense at short. Livan in 2017 appeared in 47 games where he hit .225/.332/.254 with a 13% walk rate, and 12.5% strikeout rate. Livan was signed by the Angels and in 2018 immediately looked like he was turning the corner and hit .291/.385/.349 in 44 games in Rookie ball. Livan played just 7 games in rookie ball in 2019 before being promoted to Class-A where he appeared in 64 games and hit .220/.311/.253 - showing a good eye at the plate with an 11.3% walk rate but not hitting the ball consistently or hard (.033 ISO). He’s now 6’0” and 160 pounds and is currently the Angels 19th rated prospect.

Guillermo Zuniga

A relatively unknown prospect at the time, Guillermo agreed to terms with a rather large $350K signing bonus. Guillermo appeared in five games in 2016 where he had a 2.61 ERA, 7.84 K/9, and 1.74 BB/9 and then appeared in eight games in 2017 where he had a 5.06 EREA, and 4.46 FIP. In 2018 he signed with the Dodgers where he appeared to take off with a plus fastball and plus slider and proceeded to go 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA, and 9.88 K/9. In 2019, Guillermo really began to stand out for his plus pitches - highlighted by a 12.91 K/9 rate in 12 games in A+ ball, but battled with command (5.28 BB/9) and 4.11 ERA. Guillermo is not considered a top 30 prospect for the Dodgers but it’s kind of tough to be one in that organization.

Juan Carlos Negret

Juan appeared in 50 games in 2017 for the DSL Braves where he displayed a great eye at the plate and hit .264/.410/.391 to go with 23 stolen bases, albeit with 9 caught stealing in the DSL. Juan signed with the Royals in 2018 and hit .224/.284/.423 in 54 games, and then in 2019 hit a combined .216/.290/.417 with 19 homers. Juan is not considered a top 30 prospect in the Royals organization.

Antonio Sucre

Antonio appeared in 57 games for the Braves in 2017 where he hit .237/.333/.333. He has not played professional (MiLB) baseball in America since.

Ji-Hwan Bae

Bae made a splash when the Braves signed him because he was considered the top-rated Korean shortstop. He did not appear in a game for the Braves. He has since signed with the Pirates and has hit .309/.391/.407, including a fantastic 2019 campaign that saw him hit .323/.403/.430. He is considered the number 13 prospect in the Pirates organization but not without controversy. In 2019, Bae was convicted of assault in court when he slapped, choked, and kicked his girlfriend, at the time, back in high school.

Brandol Mezquita

Brandol re-signed with the Braves and hit .212/.347/.327 in 52 games for the DSL Braves, and hit .246/.350/.280 in 34 games for the GCL Braves in 2019. He is currently still in the organization.

Angel Rojas

Angel did not appear in a game for the Braves and has since signed with the New York Yankees. In 2018 Angel appeared in 55 games where he hit .285/.377/.486 for the DSL Yankees, and in 2019 hit a combined .241/.298/.343 in 41 games. Angel is not considered a top 30 prospect in the Yankees organization.

Robert Puason

It would not be a complete list until we brought up Robert Puason - the number 2 prospect of the 2019 international signing period. Robert was long linked to the Atlanta Braves before having it canceled do to the sanctions and instead signed with the Athletics. Puason is considered the #2 prospect in the Athletics organization.