July 2 doesn’t get as much attention as July 31’s non-waiver trade deadline, but it’s still a pretty significant date in the baseball world. Today marks the first day of the international signing period. If you take a look at the signings today and over the next couple of weeks and months, you’ll notice that the great majority of these players are 16 years old and come from Latin America.
The Rangers have already grabbed the headlines this morning, signing Dominican outfielder Nomar Mazara to a bonus worth more than $5 million, according to Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com. The previous record for a signing bonus during the international signing period was the $4.25 million the Athletics gave to Dominican right-hander Michael Ynoa in 2008.
Rojas writes that the 16-year-old Mazara “is a 6-foot-5 outfielder who hits for power from the left side of the plate.” Ben Badler of Baseball America ranked the top 40 expected signing bonuses yesterday and Mazara checked in at 10th on the list. Dominican outfielder Elier Hernandez, who was ranked first on the list, has signed with the Royals for $3.05 million.
So much for a last-minute, nail-biting finish to this division race. The Braves cemented their division title with a dominant 5-3 finish over the Phillies on Saturday, laying claim to the NL East title for the first time since 2013.
The Braves asserted themselves right off the bat after amassing a four-run lead from Johan Camargo and Freddie Freeman, both of whom cleared the bases with two-run singles in the first two innings. Ronald Acuna Jr., meanwhile, found another way to make his presence known after swiping his 15th stolen base of the year and joining Alex Rodriguez, Orlando Cepeda, and Mike Trout as one of the youngest players to collect at least 25 home runs and 15 stolen bags in major league history.
Not to be outdone, Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz delivered one of the strongest starts of his season to date. The righty set down six innings of no-hit ball against the Phillies, and, with just 62 pitches under his belt, looked ready to go the distance before he lost his bid on Odubel Herrera‘s leadoff single in the seventh.
Unfortunately for the Braves, the Phillies not only upended Foltynewicz’s no-hit attempt, but the shutout as well. In the eighth inning, Cesar Hernandez and Rhys Hoskins wrestled two RBI singles from Atlanta’s bullpen and brought Philadelphia within one run of tying the game. Hoskins was the last Phillies batter to reach base, however, as Jonny Venters and Arodys Vizcaino tossed a combined 1 2/3 scoreless innings (backed by a final RBI hit from Kurt Suzuki in the bottom of the eighth) to cap the Braves’ win — and the NL East title.
With the loss, the Phillies sit seven games back of a wild card spot in the National League. They’ll need to outpace the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Cardinals in order to make 2018 their first postseason-qualifying year since 2011.