(The International Signing Period started last week. While the Braves won’t be busy due to penalties, they will continue to sign free agents. I thought it was a good time to take a look back at some of the older international classes and see what they looked like. I’ve tried to be as accurate as possible. If you spot errors, let me know. Also, like the pic above? It came courtesy of Grant McAuley. Remember to follow him @grantmcauley if you aren’t already.)
Earlier in 2010, the Atlanta Braves gave Edward Salcedo $1.6 million to sign. It would be another five years until they signed an international free agent for more money. But because the Salcedo signing came before July 2, it was classified as a 2009-10 signing rather than a 2010-11 one. When the Braves announced their signings for that latter class, they would not be nearly as significant in terms of financial cost. That said – they got a lot more bang for their buck than they did for Salcedo.
Bonus Baby – Mauricio Cabrera
Signed for a quarter of what Salcedo got, Cabrera didn’t need much time to flash his big arm. In 2012, his second season, he moved up to Danville as an 18-year-old and carried a 2.97 ERA over 57.2 ING. His K/BB rate was 2.09. He would never beat that rate again. He walked 71 batters in 131.1 innings with Rome in 2013 and battled injuries and inconsistency for the next two years before 2016. Cabrera was hardly a big name anymore. Though the Braves had added him to the 40-man roster two years before, the expectation was that he may never make it to the majors. But then, he K’d 34 (and walked 22 ) in 33.2 innings with Mississippi before joining Atlanta in late June.
Over 41 games and 38.1 innings, Cabrera walked a bunch of major league hitters but held his own overall with a 2.82 ERA. He even saved six games that summer for the Braves.
And then…it was gone. In 2017, arm troubles kept him off the opening day roster. Awful pitching kept him off for good. He finished with a 6.20 ERA and 46 walks in 45 minor league frames. This season, the Braves have tried to bring him along slowly in A-ball with the Florida Fire Frogs. No dice. His career appears dead despite the fact that he’s only 24-years-old.
Money Well Spent – Johan Camargo
The Braves dished out just $42,000 for the light-hitting middle infielder with a big arm. He occasionally flashed a decent stick, hitting over .300 during his first two seasons with the Dominican Summer League squad and Danville. Once he joined the land of full season-ball, though, his numbers tanked. Over three seasons, he had an OPS between .639 and .683. However, a new swing and new focus in the weight room produced a new Camargo for 2017. He hit .295/.340/.473 with Gwinnett and nearly duplicated those numbers in Atlanta. He has continued to show pop in 2018 with a new weapon – patience. With plus defense and an OPS hovering around .800, Camargo looks like he might hold down third base for a little while.
Overhyped, But Useful – Jose Peraza
Handed the second largest bonus of the period with $350,000, Peraza became a top prospect in the Braves system and twice made the Top 100 for the three big ranking publications (Baseball America, MLB Pipeline, and Baseball Prospectus). He was ranked a bit too highly as he showed little pop nor an ability to avoid swinging at any pitch close. His defense at shortstop was also suspect with many believing his arm would push him to the other side of second base. But he was productive, swiping 60 bases twice and he hit everywhere he went.
Including Oklahoma City after a midseason trade to the Dodgers’ organization in 2015. His stay in L.A. wouldn’t be long and he’s played the last three years with the Reds. While he’s stretched as an everyday player – let alone an everyday shortstop – at 24 years-old, Peraza has a shot at a 2 fWAR season. The Reds can’t be too unhappy with that.
Robinson Arno – Signed for at least $100,000, Arno was a tall right-handed hitter with great power potential. Well, in three years in the DSL and GCL, he was definitely tall and not much else (.225/.306/.350 over 482 PA).
Oriel Caicedo – Another six-digit signing, Caicedo displayed great control even as a 17-year-old in the DSL. He made it to Rome in 2015 and spent the next three seasons as a swingman. Last summer, he finally made it to Advanced-A with Florida. His biggest moment of the season – and arguably his career – came on August 12 when he took a no-hitter into the ninth inning before an error and two hits allowed lost his 1-0 lead. The Fire Frogs lost it in extras. Caicedo was released by the Braves.
Francisco Cambuston – He didn’t last too long. In 17 games with the DSL, he had a 5.60 ERA and that would be the end of his run with the Braves. A couple of years later, the Mexican-born right-hander landed with the Tigres de Quintana Roo in the Mexican League. Over four seasons, he has seen his ERA slowly worsen from 3.70 in 2014 to 6.85 last year. According to his MILB.com page, Cambuston remains on the Tigres’ reserve roster, but he hasn’t pitched this season.
Alexander De La Cruz – A catcher with a nice arm, De La Cruz didn’t play for the Braves until 2012 and was easily forgetful in 180 PA with a .492 OPS. The Braves cut him from there and he landed in the Orioles’ organization. He played sparingly over three seasons with the O’s, making it as high as the short-season advanced-rookie New York-Penn League. He’s still with the organization but has missed the last two-and-a-half seasons due to a left leg injury.
Jordan Jimenez – No evidence that he actually played for the Braves, nor any other teams.
Jose Morel – Signed for at least $100K, the switch-hitting outfielder was toolsy but raw. It took him two years just to get to the states and he never hit in the DSL. He re-entered the Braves’ good graced in 2013 with a .670 OPS, a better idea of the strike zone, and 13 steals in 14 attempts in the GCL. That gave him some forward momentum in 2014 – which included a cameo in Rome. However, he spent most of the summer at Danville and it was ugly. His follow-up campaign in 2015 was significantly better – .313/.372/.390. But, like Leudys Baez this season, Morel just ran out of time.
Camilo Pajaro – Another one-and-done player, Pajaro played just seven times for the DSL in 2011 and his professional career sits at 0-for-6 with 3 strikeouts. But…he did play professionally!
Miguel Rivero – Yet another outfielder from this signing class, Rivero spent most of 2011 on the shelf and wasn’t winning over many observers in the 49 PA he did have. The switch-hitter came back to the DSL in 2012 and was one of the team’s most consistent hitters (.292/.367/.365). However, it wasn’t enough to land him a spot on a roster in the states and he hasn’t played professionally since.
Jose Rosario – Like De La Cruz, Rosario would find second-life in the Baltimore organization, but he never played in the states. In two seasons with the Braves, the teenager went from overmatched (4.76 ERA) to perfectly acceptable (2.25 ERA). However, his stuff never exploded off the page and the Braves moved on. As did Rosario, who spent two seasons playing for the Orioles 2 squad. Again, he was good for the league. But again, the organization moved on. In exactly 200 professional innings, Rosario has a 2.79 ERA and a 3.31 K/BB.
Carlos Sanchez – A catcher who inked a six-figure signing bonus, a lot was hoped for in regards to Sanchez after a .353 OBP and 45% caught-stealing rate during his first summer of organized ball. But over three more seasons, he never came close to repeating those numbers. Sanchez played 143 career games – including 25 with Rome in 2014.
Andry Ubiera – As an 18-year-old, Ubiera struck out over a batter an inning in the DSL during 2011 with a 2.66 ERA. It quickly grabbed some attention and subsequent campaigns in 2012 and 2013 were, though not as electric, still good enough to deserve some consideration for Top 30 organizational lists at the time. But control issues plagued him and took some shine off his forward progression in 2014. He’d be cut at the end of spring training the next year and hasn’t played since.
Victor Velazquez – One of the few signings that immediately played, Velazquez joined the DSL roster in 2010 for seven games here-and-there. He’d get a bigger look the following year, sharing time with Sanchez. However, he just couldn’t hit, getting just a dozen hits in 78 AB (.154 AVG). While defense matters, you’re not going to get many chances with a career .131/.271/.152 line in 120 PA. Unsurprisingly, Velazquez was cut and has never played again.
Lasting Thoughts of the 2010 Class
The Braves didn’t go crazy during this class – likely due to the Salcedo signing the previous February. But they found in Camargo a potential lasting piece and that’s all you ought to expect each year. Land that one player who helps your major league club. At different times, the Braves also got value out of Cabrera and Peraza – the latter via a trade.
Ultimately, it’s not the best class. Nor the worst. If I had to attach a grade, I’d probably give it a C. If Camargo develops into a yearly 3 fWAR player, that grade should be bumped up a bit.