The Royals have signed another young international prospect. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reported that Venezuelan outfielder Cristhian Vasquez signed for a $700,000 bonus.
Vasquez is the second signing since the July international signing period began. On Tuesday, they signed 16-year-old Italian shortstop Marten Gasparini. Unlike Gasparini, who only turned 16 a month and a half ago, Vasquez will turn 17 in September, making him relatively old for this class*.
*That sounds odd, but since the international class of players can’t sign until they turn 16 and July 2 comes along, players who are unsigned are generally not considered as big of prospects. This is why before a tighter background check system was set up, players would turn out to be a couple years older than they’d originally been said to be. If you’re 18 but say you’re 16, there’s more room to grow in a scout’s mind, and you get a bigger bonus. That worry is less and less prevalent today.
Baseball America has Vasquez ranked at #22 in their top 30 international prospect rankings, citing his advanced bat as his best tool. He bats and throws left-handed. Their scouting report credits him with gap power and a contact-first approach. He’s just 5’11″ and 180 pounds so he may not have a lot of home run power.
The Royals are really banking on his bat to play, as reports of his arm aren’t great – just average, and his speed isn’t elite. Minor League Ball has him timed at a 7.01 second 60 yard dash, which might be a shade below average, but fairly close.
Like Gasparini, Vasquez isn’t likely to see a lot of rookie league action for a while. Since he’s older, he might see some time next season as he approaches age 18, but much of that will depend on his development and if other tools develop if he starts to grow and add muscle. Like any 16-year-old, it’s a lot of waiting on potential and trusting the development staff. We’ll see.