In our last check-in on international prospects, we led with scouting reports of Korean position players Hyun-soo Kim and Byung-ho Park, who signed with the Orioles and Twins, respectively, this offseason. In this update, we look at a few talented Cubans (and others).
We begin with the news that Cuban teenager Lazaro Armenteros, aka Lazarito, has been named a free agent by Major League Baseball and will be eligible to sign with a club starting on Feb. 10. The timing of this announcement is significant because it makes Armenteros eligible to agree to a deal during the 2015-2016 signing period and allows clubs who have exceeded their bonus pool allotment during this period -- like the Dodgers, Cubs, Giants and Reds -- to make a play for him before July arrives and they become barred from signing prospects for more than $300,000. Teams that would want to make Lazarito part of an expensive 2016-2017 class will have to hope he waits for the international calendar to turn over or, more realistically, come to a verbal agreement with Armenteros late this winter and then sign him officially after July 2.
Team-specific courtship of Lazarito doesn't seem to have begun yet; the decision-makers are waiting for their scouts to get another look at him. He has done a few sessions for scouts, but with various prospect workouts scheduled in Latin America over the next several weeks, chances are Armenteros will pop up at a few of them to be seen again.
Armenteros' Jan. 8 workout received mixed reviews from the international scouting personnel I've spoken to.