Luis Guanipa was the biggest international signing for the Atlanta Braves since their ill-fated 2016 class and the subsequent sanctions, and he impressed early in his professional career.
Guanipa was signed as an international free agent on January 15, 2023 to a $2.5 million bonus, making him one of the largest international free agent signings in the franchise’s history.
Preseason Report Card
Guanipa, who turns 18 on December 15, may only have come in listed at 5’11”, but carried outsized potential and electrifying athleticism. Hailing from Ronald Acuna Jr.’s home country of Venezuela, Guanipa had little in the way of video available as he was heading into his Braves career. Most came from short clips that he posted on his TikTok account, but even with just snippets, the bat speed and twitchy athleticism jumped off of the screen. Guanipa was widely considered one of the highest-ceiling bats in the class with a tantalizing speed and raw power combination. However, there are questions about his approach, and, of course, the risk that any teenage prospect will have.
What we saw in 2023
It took exactly one game for Guanipa to make a splash in the Dominican Summer League, as he hit a home run in his debut. Two games later he followed it up with a second, and after six professional games he had three home runs and an OPS of 1.095. Unfortunately his torrid start would fade down the stretch. Over the final 41 games he hit .221/.361/.310 with only one more home run.
Guanipa’s 104 wRC+ overall was decent, but hardly spectacular, and a 20.2 percent strikeout rate in the Dominican Summer League isn’t outstanding for a hitter. Still, it’s hard to judge much of anything from Guanipa’s season as he was both extremely young and in a league where we simply don’t have access to the same information that we would if he were stateside. Guanipa also had a couple of stretches during which he missed some games, so it’s unclear if he was completely healthy throughout the year.
Guanipa is young and clearly talented, and the expectation is that he will bring his talents to North Port, where we should hopefully get more of a feel for his potential. A jump into full-season ball, especially to open the season, is highly unlikely. However, we’ll certainly hear the buzz if he creates it, as the Braves haven’t had a position player prospect like Guanipa in quite awhile. His extreme athleticism will garner him attention regardless of how and where he plays, and he is a lottery ticket that possesses impact potential that is largely missing elsewhere on the position player side of the system.