The Atlanta Braves made their first big international free agent signing since 2017 on Friday morning, going all-in on an 18-year-old Dominican shortstop.
On Friday, the Atlanta Braves opened their checkbook for a few players, agreeing on arbitration contracts with Max Fried and A.J. Minter and writing international amateur Ambioris Tavarez a check for an estimated $1.5M.
The Tavarez signing is notable for many reasons, mostly because it’s the first of it’s kind for a long time.
First and foremost, it marks the only signing of a highly regarded amateur international free agent since the scandal of 2017. It’s also the first time that I can recall a team committing 96% of the club’s total international pool on one prospect, stemming from another 2017 penalty, the 50 percent reduction in the 2021 bonus pool.
The team also forfeited $1M from the pool because they signed a player with a qualifying offer, Marcell Ozuna. I think that’s enough history for this morning — let’s talk about Tavares.
Who is Mr. Tavarez?
Ambioris (am-be-or-isss) Tavarez is an 18-year-old, 6’-2”, 175 pound, right-hand hitter and another of a long line of shortstops from the Dominican Republic.
Various reports suggest that Tavarez’ bat is his carry tool, and his future on defense rests at third base or in the outfield. Baseball America’s Ben Badler’s scouting report (subscription required) highlights what he sees as Tavarez’ strengths.
Tavarez has shown good strength projection, fast bat speed, big raw power and a strong arm. . .
The announcer on the video below touts his defense at short, but it’s a promo-video, so that’s expected. He does say that Tavarez has a smooth, balanced swing and has great speed. I skipped the opening comments to start the video with Tavarez in action.
Interestingly, the Atlanta Braves chose Tavarez, who is already 18, which could lead him to the majors faster than other similar but younger prospects signed on Friday, and fill one of the gaps in the farm system.
Tavarez’ swing has a lot of lift-and-separate, which could lead to a lot of strikeouts, and he seems to take a very short stride after such a big leg kick, but those things will get better. With a smoother leg kick, he’d look a lot like Javier Baez.