Overlord Humphrey has put up a primer on International Free Agency that you can find here, complete with all the comments from last July that basically all still apply this year...which is a bit of a travesty in itself. It's definitely worth a read to get a good idea of how this market differs from the amateur player draft and why players like former Cardinal signee's Junior Fernandez and Alex Reyes might move out of the country to take advantage of the IFA rules.
Onto the players the St. Louis Cardinals have reportedly signed...
Baseball America Rank: #10
The IFA market this year is a bit light on pitching and the Cardinals likely got the best pitcher in the entire class. Seijas trains at former MLB all star Carlos Guillen's academy in Venezuela, has a good command of a fastball that sits 88-92, hitting 94 on occasion...at the age of 16. Considering his wiry frame it's not hard to see a little more juice coming on as he grows up a bit. Seijas' curveball also flashes plus at times with good depth, but not near the command of the strike zone that his fastball has. He's also shown a feel for a changeup (not uncommon for pitchers with a good curveball, as we've seen with Rob Kaminsky and Alex Reyes the last couple of seasons).
Seijas' biggest plus, in my opinion, is his overall athleticism. His father played professional basketball in Venezuela for over a decade and Alvaro has also played on his state basketball team in various Venezuelan tournaments.
From Ben Badler's scouting report:
Seijas is a good athlete who throws a lot of strikes and has good pitchability. He doesn’t have much physical projection and his arm stroke isn’t the cleanest with a wrap in the back and some effort in his delivery, but he projects as a starting pitcher with his repertoire and strike-throwing ability.
Here's some video of him from the Dominican showcase:
You can see what Badler is saying regarding his long arm swing -- he appears to throw from a crouch almost, but that's what likely leads to his solid velocity. The trouble with that motion is that it can lead to lack of downward plane and you can see some of that in the video -- how the ball tends to ride up in the zone. Given his command and how repeatable the delivery seems to be, perhaps it's not a whole lot to worry about. Also, it reminds me a lot of Dennis Eckersley and his goofy long arm motion out of a bit of a crouch.
Bats: S Throws: R
Country: Dominican Republic
Baseball America Rank: NR
Projection, projection, projection.
Although not one of the top 30 players on any IFA list for this signing period, Ozuna has the raw tools that could be forged into a solid all around player if he's able to develop any refined skills. One of the better overall athletes in the signing class, Ozuna has a plus arm and good speed, but his 6'2" 185 pound frame may eventually outgrow the SS position, a main reason why he wasn't as high on many boards as others with less raw ability.
His father is a coach in the Dodgers organization, where he played a number of seasons in the minors.
Here's Moises Rodriguez, Director of International Scouting for the Cardinals:
"Raffy projects high from a physical standpoint, has a plus arm, and we view him to be among the top shortstops in this year's class."
Again, it's easy to dream on a 16 year old kid, but his athleticism is impressive and a chance to man either SS, 3B, or CF as a switch hitter is a lot to dream on, isn't it?
While Seijas and Ozuna were the two big gets of the signing period, the Cardinals also signed three other players, who were activated to the Cardinals' DSL roster as of July 2nd:
Anthony Trompiz, 17, RHP, Venezuela (6'3", 210)
Brian Pirela, 17, RHP, Venezuela (6'2", 200)
Noel De Jesus, 18, RHP, Dominican Republic (6'2", 180)
I'll have scouting reports up for those players as I get them.
Here's John Mozeliak discussing the IFA class: