A long-rumored signing is now official — the Brewers have signed Dominican 16-year-old Gilbert Lara, one of the best prospects in this year’s international class. The Brewers are giving Lara a signing bonus of $3.2 million, shattering their previous high on the international market of $800,000.
The Brewers went into the international signing period with a soft cap of just over $2.6 million to spend. By going over that cap with this signing alone, the Brewers are either going to have to trade for more international pool money or forfeit their right to sign any single player for more than $250,000 next year.
Lara’s offensive potential would seem to make that sacrifice worth making.
Baseball America ranks Lara as the 5th-best prospect available this month, with the second-best raw power tool in the class. Others have him ranked closer to the top of the list. Either way, it’s safe to call him as a Top-5 talent. He’s been described as a bit pull-happy, but what teenager with monstrous power isn’t? There are some similarities between Lara’s scouting report and Jake Gatewood’s, but most make it sound like Lara has less work to do when it comes to translating raw power into game power and improving the hit tool.
Already 6’3″, if he’s going to stay in the infield, it’ll probably be at third base. BA doesn’t seem optimistic on his chances to stick defensively at third, though, so an eventual move to the outfield or first base may be in his future. It’s important to remember that he’s only 16, though, so there’s plenty of time for that area of his game to develop. He likely won’t even see Rookie League action in Maryvale for a couple more years.
Recent collective bargaining agreement changes have made it harder for small-market teams like the Brewers to build through the draft, so this renewed interest in the international market is encouraging. This is the third time in two years the Brewers have broken their record for highest international bonus after signing Nicolas Pierre and Franly Mallen to $800,000 bonuses last year.
Pairing this move with last month’s draft class, and the Brewers suddenly have something they haven’t had in years — more than a few high-ceiling playes with star potential. After all of the hand-wringing about prospect rankings, it appears the Brewers finally have the star potential guys that tend to land on those lists to go with the slew of role players they already had.