In the late stages of the offseason, it was rumored that the Brewers would be heavily involved in this year's international free agency period, which starts July 2nd.
With $5.25 million to spend and nearly a dozen teams not likely to be active due to signing pool restrictions, the Brewers will have the chance to jump in on some of this year's top prospects from Latin America.
Even though we're still a few days away from the official start of the signing period, many of the available players already have handshake agreements to sign once the clock strikes 12. According to Jon Heyman, the Brewers have one of those deals with switch-hitting outfielder Larry Ernesto.
Larry Ernesto, switch-hitting OF from the D.R., will sign with the brewers. deal expected to be for $1.7M.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 26, 2017
At age 16, Ernesto is already 6'2" and weighs in at 175 pounds. According to Dominican Prospect League, Ernesto is a better left-handed hitter than right-handed hitter and is currently an average runner.
Ernesto is a toolsy player with an athletic projectable body and tons of fans in the international scouting community.
On defense, Ernesto has the speed and instincts to play center field, but like most prospects his age, he will have to work on improving his routes and angles to fly balls. The belief is that he has the potential to become a plus-plus defender, and there's hope that he will develop more arm strength once his body matures and he receives daily instruction in a team's academy when he signs.
On offense, the switch-hitting Ernesto has a good approach at the plate and likes to drive the ball into the gaps. He has a chance to hit for average and power from both sides of the plate as he develops physically, but is considered a better left-handed hitter at the moment. Known as a speedy runner, the hope is that Ernesto will be able to use his raw speed on the bases and eventually become a basestealer.
The Brewers clearly saw enough in Ernesto to commit a significant chunk of their international spending money on him. They've also been connected with another outfielder, Carlos Rodriguez of Venezuela, who ranked 28th on MLB Pipeline's list.