Yankees 2014 International Spending Spree Starting to Pay Dividends

Mar 16, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; A general view of George M. Steinbrenner Field during batting practice for the New York Yankees. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 16, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; A general view of George M. Steinbrenner Field during batting practice for the New York Yankees. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Several potential future stars are beginning to emerge from the New York Yankees record breaking 2014 international spending spree.

The New York Yankees blew away the competition by spending more than $17 million on international free agents in 2014, nearly $12 million more than the second-highest spending team.

In addition, they paid a 100% tax on all of the money they spent over their original $2.19 million bonus pool, which means their total outlay was north of $30 million. By going over their pool, they also lost the ability to hand out bonuses larger than $300,000 for the next two signing periods.

It was a somewhat controversial strategy, but it’s beginning to look like it will pay off big for the Yankees in the long run. They signed 52 players overall in 2014, including 10 of the top 30 available international prospects in the estimation of Baseball America

More from Yanks Go Yard

The evaluators at MLB.com were even more optimistic about the Yankees talent haul, estimating that they landed three of the top five available players and five of the top ten.

Three members of the 2014 class of international free agents have already cracked MLB Pipeline’s list of Top 30 prospects. Most of the group remain teenagers who are just beginning to realize their potential, so that number should continue to grow over the next few seasons.

Here’s a look at how some of the top talents are faring in 2016:

Dermis Garcia– Considered the top available international talent of the 2014 class by MLB.com, he took home the biggest bonus of this group at $3 million. After a disappointing professional debut, the 18-year-old has hit .216/.338/.491 (124 wRC+) with 13 home runs in 204 plate appearances for the Pulaski Yankees. Has an argument for best raw power in the system with the graduation of Aaron Judge to the big leagues. 

Nelson Gomez– Like Garcia, Gomez is a teenage, power-hitting third baseman, although many feel that he’ll eventually have to slide over to first. The Yankees haven’t seen a huge return yet on their $2.25 million investment, as Gomez is hitting only .195/.257/.414 (96 wRC+) in the GCL. With 19 homers through 106 professional games, he has shown some pop. He’s just developing a little slower than some of his fellow phenoms.

Juan De Leon– Many scouts see this athletic outfielder as potentially the best overall talent the Yankees signed in 2014. He just made his debut stateside this season, hitting .250/.321/.333 (98 wRC+) in just 28 GCL plate appearances. The 6’2 185 lb. 18-year-old will likely have to wait until next year to have his breakout season, but he’s definitely a name worth remembering.

Jonathan Amundaray– Signed out of Venezuela for $1.5 million, the 17-year-old outfielder remains a project, but is having a nice year in the Dominican Summer League, hitting .269/.321/.394 (112 wRC+) in 112 plate appearances this year.

Wilkerman Garcia– The 18-year-old shortstop had scouts so excited about his loud tools that MLB Pipeline had him rated fifth overall in the Yankees system prior to this season. He’s struggled following an aggressive assignment to the Appalachian League, hitting just .206/.267/.299 (59 wRC+) in 221 plate appearances, but it’s worth remembering that he’s 2.5 years younger than his average competition. He’s one strong season from establishing himself as a Top 100 type talent.

Estevan Florial– Garcia’s Pulaski teammate has also put together something of a down year in 2016, batting .222/.311/.375 (92 wRC+) with seven home runs and seven steals in 55 games. Still, the power/speed combination is enticing and he’s holding his own against older players. Florial signed for just $200,000 in 2014 following some issues with his birth certificate, but he’s already looking like one of the best investments from this class of free agents.

Hoy Jun Park– Ranked 22nd in the Yankees system by MLB Pipeline, Park is the most advanced member of this group. At 20, he’s having a solid season overall in the Appalachian League, hitting .223/.331/.323 (94 wRC+) in 473 plate appearances with an impressive 31 steals for the Pulaski Yankees. By all accounts he is an excellent defensive shortstop and should hit enough to project as an everyday guy in the majors a few years down the line.

Leonardo Molina– The first member of the 2014 class to hit his way out of rookie ball, the 19-year-old Molina has gotten off to a slow start with Low-A Charleston, but did hit .242/.323/.430 (107 wRC+) with five homers and four steals in 42 games with the Pulaski Yankees. He’s definitely still raw, but is considered a true five tool talent with a sky high ceiling.

Next: Yankees Still Have Time for August Win-Now Moves

The tremendous group of athletes the Yankees brought into the system during their 2014 spending spree are just beginning to make their names known stateside. Some will certainly disappoint, but there is just so much talent here that it seems like a lock that at least a few stars will emerge.