With the lifting of the sanctions placed upon them from the scandal that cost them a bunch of international prospects, years of the ability to sign international free agents, and cost former general manager John Coppolella any future in the game of baseball, the Atlanta Braves would hopefully be able to be big players in international free agency. They did just that when they signed Diego Benitez and Douglas Glod among others during the previous signing period.
The international free agency process has been slightly different in recent years as it used to start in July, but will begin on January 15th as it did last year. However, with MLBPA and MLB unable to come to an agreement on an international draft this past summer, we are left with the usual international bonus pools and restrictions. Most teams, including the Braves, have a base bonus pool of $5,284,000 with some teams, such as the Rangers and Dodgers, having less because they signed players that had rejected qualifying offers.
Both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline have come out with international prospect rankings for the upcoming class of 2023 and both publications have connected the Braves to Venezuelan outfielder Luis Guanipa. Interestingly, the publications differ significantly in where they have Guanipa on their lists as BA has him at #10 on their list (at least in terms of expected bonus pool cost) in the class while MLB has him at #34 on their rankings.
In Guanipa, you have some pretty loud tools in his speed (which BA grades as plus-plus) and his power. He currently roams in center field where he has shown good route instincts and the aforementioned speed, although it sounds like his arm is a bit underwhelming. Both publications seem to like his future ability to hit, but that is where the similarities in their evaluations stop being similar.
BA was very high on Guanipa’s raw power and speed, where MLB only called his power “emerging” and his run times as above average. They even have two different height measurements for him with BA having him at 5’11 and MLB had him at 5’9 and seemingly dinged him a bit for his lack of size. It seems reasonable to suggest that BA may have had more recent looks/information on Guanipa (players as young as these guys physically change quickly) than MLB which could explain the disparity.
Almost more interestingly, that is the only name in the “top” IFA prospects that the Braves are currently connected to. Atlanta does not appear anywhere else in Baseball America’s top 20 expected bonus pool signings nor in MLB’s top 50 international prospects for 2023. It will be very interesting to see what the Braves do with their IFA pool this coming signing period as there is a real need in the lower levels to create some depth. The organization previously has been very good at identifying cheaper “diamonds in the rough” IFA talents such as William Contreras, so we will see if they try to spread their money out a lot in search of depth or if Guanipa potentially more expensive than some in the industry may believe.