He was a centerfielder and excelled in the Serie Nacional due to his speed. He’s considered a legend in Cuba due to earned accomplishments while playing and managing. Victor Mesa Martinez was born on February 20, 1960. Mesa played 19 seasons in the Cuban Baseball League. He carries a career .OPS of .885 and hit 273 homers. He also ranks second All-Time in the Cuban League with 589 stolen bases. He won a Gold Medal during the 1992 Summer Olympics with Team Cuba in Barcelona. The veteran baseball man played in the Baseball World Cup, Intercontinental Cup, PAN American Games, Central and Caribbean American Games and the Goodwill Games. He’s even managed Team Cuba and Team Mexico in world tournaments of late. Mesa has left quite a legacy on the island. His offspring may end up deciding his legacy in the United States however.
Back in May, it was learned that Mesa’s sons would be attempting to play major league baseball. Victor Mesa Jr. and Victor Victor Mesa are 16 and 22 years old respectively and are currently training in the Dominican Republic. They haven’t been cleared to sign contracts yet by Major League Baseball and don’t currently have a date set for a showcase.
Victor Mesa Jr. starred on Cuba’s 18U National Team and is a much lesser known prospect than his brother. Junior is a switch-hitting outfielder with offensive potential and a decent arm. He would have been ranked in the teens on the top 30 international prospects list at mlbpipeline.com according to Jesse Sanchez.
Victor Victor is a 22-year-old outfielder and is the current phenom to potentially showcase for major league clubs. He will instantly become the top ranked international player in the 2018 class once he’s cleared to sign a contract. He’s an exciting player that plays with a flare and youthful exuberance. Sanchez calls him an “outstanding outfield defender” with a strong arm. He has great athleticism and a proven pedigree. Some scouts have put 70 grades on his speed and arm.
The 5’11 180 pound outfielder displays an aggressive approach in the batter’s box and possesses quick bat speed. Baseball America’s international czar Ben Badler has compared him to Washington Nationals’ prospect Victor Robles. As a 16-year-old, Victor played for Matanzas in the Serie Nacional. He hit .354/.399/.539 in 70 games and has received well over 1,000 plate appearances since the age of 16. Victor also had three hits with two doubles in the most recent World Baseball Classic. As an advanced prospect, he could likely start his minor league career in High Class A or Double A.
Some footage of Victor’s swing
More video courtesy of Fangraphs
Where Will He Sign?
The current period in which clubs can sign international amateur free agents started on July second. Many clubs came to agreements with players and have the majority of their international space already accounted for. The large market clubs can spend up to $4,983,500 in the international market. Small market clubs that received Competitive Balance Round B picks can spend $6,025,400 and clubs that received Competitive Balance Round A picks can spend $5,504,500. Clubs can trade for more bonus pool space by acquiring up to 75% of their pool which I detailed here. There have been some rumors that the Baltimore Orioles may be close to an agreement with Victor Victor. They may ultimately end up signing the player but there’s no way that agreement has been made prior to a showcase and clearance from major league baseball however.
Per source, Orioles are close to a deal with Cuban OF Victor Victor Mesa.
— Emily Waldon (@EmilyCWaldon) July 27, 2018
— Byron Kerr (@masnKerr) July 27, 2018
The Baltimore Orioles usually punt the international period every year and signing a prospect of this caliber would be seen as a step in the right direction for the franchise. The Orioles currently have the most international pool space of any team with $5,754,500. The Marlins are next with $4.1 million followed by the Cubs at $3.05 million. All three teams have been mentioned with Victor Victor in some capacity. Baltimore could trade for an additional amount of pool space for a total of $9,632,875. Miami can get to roughly $8 million after trading for more pool space. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays could be factors as well with $2.7 million and $1.96 million remaining respectively.
Julio Pablo Martinez was in a similar boat to Victor Victor last year at this time. He’s a similar prospect who also hails from the island of Cuba and he was a late addition to the 2017 international signing class. Teams were trading for pool space and vying for the right to sign him. He is currently listed as the #57 prospect in baseball according to MLBPipeline and he signed with the Texas Rangers for $2.8 million. Victor Victor will likely sign for something in the range of $3.5 to $5 million.
How it Pertains to Cubs and White Sox
The Chicago White Sox have a long history of signing Cuban players but they will not be involved in this case. On July 2nd, the club signed five players to contracts and they are still limited to $300K bonuses due to being in the penalty box over signing Luis Robert. The organization is unable to be as active as they’d like on the international front but that hasn’t stopped them from procuring talent for their budding farm system. Rick Hahn made four trades involving international space that his organization couldn’t use anyway last season. He made another one to acquire a high-upside bullpen arm on Tuesday. I detailed that transaction for FutureSox here. The White Sox still have in the neighborhood of $2 million in international pool space that they can use. The money could theoretically be sent to teams in the Victor Victor sweepstakes with prospects coming back to the Pale Hose.
The Cubs weren’t as active as other clubs on the international front in 2016 and 2017 due to penalties sustained under the old Collective Bargaining Agreement. They are back in the game this year though. The North siders inked right-handed pitcher Richard Gallardo out of Venezuela for $1 million. The lanky righty was considered to be one of the top pitchers in the 2018 class. The Cubs also signed the #27, #46 and #47 prospects in the signing class according to Baseball America. The Cubs have spent just under $2 million on the market so far this year leaving them with roughly $3.05 million in available space. The Cubs could choose to handle this in multiple ways.
They could trade their remaining funds to a team like the Marlins or Orioles or another team in the derby. A close to the majors pitching prospect or current big league reliever could prove to be a more valuable use of the resources than signing international amateurs. They could also decide to get in on the talks and sign Victor Victor Mesa for themselves. There are clubs that can presently offer more money to the Cuban standout. The Cubs can trade for more bonus pool space if they choose though. The front office is allowed to trade for space totaling 75% of their original pool. This means they could offer just under $7 million if they acquired the maximum pool allotment. The bottom line is that the Cubs still have international space to use and many of the prospects in this class are already accounted for.
There’s no telling when Victor Victor will be officially cleared to sign but it will be big news when he does. He’ll be signing with some club for a bargain price and likely inserted right into the top 100 prospect discussion for most publications. He’d be a worthwhile investment for any club at the discount rate that the current CBA allows.
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