The Atlanta Braves are back in the business of signing top international amateurs, and this year their big bonus is going to Luis Guanipa. The 17 year old Guanipa is an outfielder from Venezuela and may be the most exciting international prospect the Braves have signed since the ill-fated 2016 class. The Braves have not yet confirmed the signing, but it has been reported by multiple outlets and is pending a physical. Guanipa is reported to be receiving a $2,500,00 million signing bonus, which would tie Diego Benitez (2021) for the highest bonus the Braves have given since Kevin Maitan received $4,250,000 in 2016.
BIG SIGNING for Atlanta Braves. Prospect OF Luis Guanipa from Venezuela agrees for 2.5M. Guanipa is Ranked No. 34 in Top 100 International Prospect Rankings by MLB. pic.twitter.com/3CFFah4DhN— Antonio Puesán (@antoniopuesan) January 15, 2023
Guanipa has been a late riser up the prospect boards for this signing period with his smaller stature being a factor in keeping some eyes off of him. Guanipa’s exact height is a bit unclear as he’s listed at 5’9 on MLB pipeline, 5’10 on Fangraphs, and 5’11 on Baseball America but in any case he was viewed as an undersized outfielder. That said he is still a teenager and growth could have and may have happened. Pipeline ranked Guanipa as just their 34th best international prospect but later lists from Baseball America and Fangraphs both had him in the top 10 which aligns better with his bonus and the general consensus on his athleticism. The common refrain around Guanipa is that he is shockingly strong for his size and has the toolset to be a plus power hitter despite his shorter stature. Guanipa is strongly built and produces tremendous bat speed and explosive contact off the bat. He has worked to tone down his pre-swing hitch and quiet his overall mechanics, but make no mistake this is a player that takes every swing with the intent to do major damage. His swing has transformed into a smoother and more typical bat path which when combined with his bat speed and feel for contact has evaluators believing he can be an average to above average pure hitter at the professional level as well.
More than just an enticing offensive player Guanipa rolls in double plus speed that can make him a force both on the basepaths and at his home in center field. Guanipa’s power and speed combination makes him a rare chip for the Braves to have in the system and immediately makes him one of the top 20 prospects in the organization. His main defensive weakness is his below average arm which will keep him limited to center field and left field. Overall his biggest red flag as a player is simply his age, as with any 17 year old there is a high variance and huge risk for him to flame out. We’ll get an opportunity to see Guanipa hopefully in the Florida Complex League this summer, and once stateside the scouting reports will become more consistent and can often change drastically. With a swing so geared to crush baseballs there is also the concern that he will bring along some swing-and-miss and those naunces of his game like approach, work ethic, and baseball iq are simply unknowable quantities. Guanipa is a young player with tremendous ability that should be the most anticipated debut this summer with the potential to add impact offensive ability to a weak farm system.