The Braves have have signed Dominican infielder Ambioris Tavarez according to a report by Baseball America’s Ben Badler. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed but it is expected to be in the neighborhood of $1.5 million which would account for nearly all of Atlanta’s bonus pool. Tavarez is the first significant international signee by the Braves since the 2016 class that included Kevin Maitan- due to the penalties from international violations, which included setting Maitan and the rest of that year’s class free.
The 6’2, 175 pound Tavarez is the only significant signee this year as those penalties are still active, though this class is last year of the penalties. That means the Braves are free of any restrictions for the class that should be signing on July 2, 2021- but will be delayed until January 2022 for the whole league just as this year’s class was delayed due to the pandemic. For reference the penalty for this year was having the bonus pool cut in half, and additional money was lost due to signing compensatory free agent Marcell Ozuna last year.
With that out of the way let’s take a closer look at the player the Braves are signing.
This is Ambioris Tavarez.— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) April 17, 2020
The Dominican infielder is expected to be the Braves' top international signing in 2020.
Find how much he'll sign for + a report here: https://t.co/Dns38vHgJt pic.twitter.com/Gnec4wNWXD
The bat is the reason Tavarez is coveted. He’s a right handed hitter with huge bat speed and big power potential- especially once he fills in his body.
There isn’t a ton of video of Tavarez available, but what is out there really showcases his bat speed. If you haven’t seen the video yet, the best way to describe it is eye opening. It almost reminds me of a young Javier Baez in the impressive right handed bat speed in a frame that’s not huge.
While I haven’t seen enough of the bat to comfortably grade it, I have seen and heard enough to have a gut feeling he will hit for some average. His bat speed can’t be taught, and he has a presence about him in the box where he looks comfortable.
The bat speed and his strength help to give him very good power for his age. That power will only grow as he fills in his body. It’s pretty easy to throw a future plus grade on his power, maybe even a higher grade if one wasn’t being conservative with their grades.
Tavarez is listed as a shortstop, but is widely expected not to end up there longterm. This isn’t a worry, as Latin kids often start out at shortstop because they are the most talented kid on the field and end up being moved once they are in pro ball.
While we know he’s pretty much not going to end up at shortstop, his future defensive home is slightly up in the air. Most expect him to end up at third base, but some of that depends on how much he fills his body in- important to remember that this is a 16 year old kid, so growth will happen.
Still he has a very good arm, more than enough arm to handle shortstop. That along with his shortstop background lead to the belief that he may fit best at third base.
However there are some who think he may grow significantly, and that may force a move to the outfield in a corner spot.
Personally I see him ending up at third base longterm, and I think he could be an adequate to potentially above average fielder there assuming he doesn’t outgrow the position.
This player feels like a prototypical third baseman. A guy who has the hands and arm to handle third while providing significant power.
Tavarez might be under-rated by some other sites, but is still generally ranked as a Top 25 overall prospect in this international class. One source I spoke with that is more familiar with talent in Latin America called Tavarez one of the five best pure bats in this class.
That’s the type of player the Braves are signing, the most exciting international free agent since Kevin Maitan.
I see Tavarez as being a major addition to the Braves for his upside. The kind of guy who would immediately slot into the final third of my Top 30 prospect list for the Braves, and could move very high in a year with a strong debut.
It must be remembered that as promising as Tavarez and his bat are, he is at least four years away if not closer to five or six. His development will certainly take some time as he not only needs to grow into his body, but will need to learn a new position defensively while adjusting to pro ball and life in a new country.