The Toronto Blue Jays announced the signing of seven international free agents earlier today. What this should do - in a perfect world - is quiet the masses a bit. Fans are still upset about the club missing out on the No. 1 Draft Pick Who Shall Remain Nameless; this gives the masses less ammunition for the disgruntled revolt. Especially after tossing in a couple other names (that signed and were announced back in July), this group becomes quite impressive.
The organization signed four players that could probably go in the first two rounds of the amateur draft if they were eligible: RHP Robert Osuna, OF/SS Wilmer Becerra, SS Dawel Lugo, and OF Jesus Gonzalez. RHP Manuel Cordova is another prospect that just misses being included in that group.
Osuna was considered by some to be the top arm available amongst the 2011 amateur free agent class. At the age of 16, he was pitching in the Mexican Baseball League, which plays at a triple-A talent level and features numerous ex-MLB players. He struggled with a 5.79 FIP and 5.03 BB/9 rate but he should have been playing high school ball or, at most, Rookie Ball. He has a solid fastball and already tops out around 93 mph but the 6'0'' hurler will have to work on his conditioning (230 lbs).
The club also announced LHP Jairo Labourt and RHP Yeyfry Del Rosario but both pitchers actually signed late last winter and pitched a combined 81.2 innings for the Jays' Dominican Summer League team in 2011. Both pitched so well that it would not be surprising to see them come to North America for the 2012 season and pitch in the Gulf Coast League.
If you toss in a few more interesting prospects from 2010 - including RHP Adonys Cardona (who received the largest bonus last year of any international prospect) and 3B Gabriel Cenas - you begin to get a real sense of the investment that the club is making in both the amateur draft and the international free agent market. Cardona was outstanding for a 17 year old in Rookie Ball, and Cenas hit well in the Dominican Summer League before getting injured and struggling upon his return.
Although the draft and international budgets are separate, and do not really impact each other, I would easily take the Latin quartet over the one first round draft pick that chose college over pro ball.