The Marlins have agreed to terms with 22-year-old Cuban outfielder Victor Victor Mesa and his younger brother, 17-year-old Victor Mesa Jr., according to reports from MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez and Jon Heyman on Saturday afternoon:
Sources: @Marlins expected to announce the signing of Victor Victor Mesa and Victor Mesa Jr. in a press conference on Monday in Miami. Victor Victor is expected to sign for more than $5 million and Victor Jr. expected to sign for a bonus near $1 million. pic.twitter.com/C4msvEm6vI— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) October 20, 2018
marlins have indeed signed victor victor and victor jr. victor victor, 22, is known as a great defender in the OF. both showed well at bat in the showcase. 1 victor, a lefty, is 5 years younger.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) October 20, 2018
As Sanchez’s tweet above suggests, Victor Victor is the more highly-coveted of the two brothers, and there’s a possibility that he could contribute in the majors as soon as next year. Mesa played professionally from the age of 16 in Cuba, and over six seasons in Serie Nacional — the country’s top professional league — he posted a .275/.334/.378 slash line with 10 homers and 74 steals in 1,166 plate appearances. While those numbers may not jump out at you, the progressed significantly at the plate as he aged — it’s important to remember that he was 10.2 years younger (!) than the average hitter in Serie Nacional when he first debuted. Over 70 games in 2016-17 — his age-20 season — he hit .354/.399/.539 with seven homers and 40 steals through 290 plate appearances.
MLB teams have been much more aggressive with securing Cuban talent since players like Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig, and Jose Abreu arrived in the majors earlier in the decade. Thus, the talent pool among professional players in Cuba is now much weaker than it once was, and it’s not as easy to determine whether success in Cuban professional baseball will translate to the majors. With that said, the older Mesa is extremely highly-regarded for his speed and defense, and he’s shown an ability to hit for contact and get on base while flashing some power potential, so he seemingly a solid shot at carving out a successful big-league career. With Brian Anderson (who could end up moving back to third base next year) being the only Marlins outfielder who found any real level of success in 2018, Mesa should quickly get an opportunity to compete with guys like Lewis Brinson and Magneuris Sierra who struggled to stay afloat when given opportunities this season.
The younger Mesa is clearly more of a project, but he’s obviously highly-regarded enough that he received a bonus near $1 million, even if that was partly due to his status as the throw-in in a package deal. As Sanchez wrote earlier this summer, the 17-year-old Mesa is a “switch-hitting outfielder with hitting potential and a decent arm.” He should be a solid addition to a Marlins system that still lacks difference-making prospects in the upper minors but has been replenished at the lower levels over the past year-plus.
While the Marlins’ front office has had its fair share of blunders in recent years, Michael Hill and company deserve credit for being bold in their efforts to make this move — especially since Victor Victor Mesa could end up being the next in a line of Cuban stars who have flourished in the city with the highest Cuban population in the United States. Clearly sensing that they needed to secure some extra funds to acquire the Mesa brothers, they traded reliever Kyle Barraclough to the Nationals for extra international signing pool money on October 10, then packaged a pair of Dominican Summer League prospects earlier this week to gain an additional $500,000 in bonus pool money. Those moves may very well have been the difference in the Marlins being able to beat out the Orioles for the Mesa brothers’ services.