Juan worked really hard over the past few years to put himself in position to get nearly $2 million, and a lot of that work was with former Atlanta Braves All-Star shortstop Rafael Furcal, who trains up-and-coming prospects in the Dominican Republic.
In the public rankings for this year’s international free agent signing class, Juan was ranked as the 14th best prospect by Baseball America and the 16th best prospect by MLB Pipeline.
Why the Mets signed Juan
At times, international free agent signings are rumored to be agreed to months or more in advance. The first rumors of Juan signing with the Mets came in April of 2021, so it was a build of nearly nine months until it could be made official.
However, the Mets' history with Juan goes back much further than that. He was first seen by area scout Kelvin Dominguez in 2018, where he ran a 6.7 second 60-yard-dash and showed some natural power even at that young of an age.
Dominguez reported his findings up to scouting supervisor Moises De La Mota and they continued to monitor Juan until it was time to get the likes of international scouting director Steve Barningham and eventually VP of international and amateur scouting Tommy Tanous involved. The Mets organization had seen north of 300 live at-bats of Juan in-game prior to his signing.
MLB Pipeline had the most glowing scouting report on Juan, citing him as a five-tool prospect who compares to George Springer and Byron Buxton at the same age. While it is lofty to compare a 16-year-old kid to two legitimate All-Star players who have received contracts of $100 million or more, it speaks to the raw tools Juan already possesses.
He is listed at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds and simply by looking at him you see there is some room to fill out more. He has a balanced swing with a swing path where you can easily see the potential for plus power.
Juan's contact ability and pitch recognition skills will bear out when he reaches pro ball, but there is nothing evident in his swing that suggests at this point that contact ability is going to be a major hindrance.
Defensively, he has plus speed and tracking skills that suggest center field can be his long-term home. That speed should also aid him on the base paths.
The throwing arm is the one tool that on video I see as lagging behind the others. With some added strength you could improve that some, but not having a plus arm probably means right field isn’t a part of your future.
The power/speed combination and ability to play center field are some of the reasons the Mets and people in baseball are so excited about Juan and believe he has a very bright future.
When we talk about these international prospects, it is entirely based on raw tools. They are typically anywhere from four-to-six years from making the major leagues. With that said, I expect that Juan will spend this summer on the Mets' Dominican Summer League roster with an eye on coming stateside in 2023.
The Mets' system is currently very top heavy and lacking premium depth. They need prospects like Juan and their upcoming high picks in the 2022 MLB Draft to make the system deeper and more stocked with high-end talent.
Is Juan going to be a player the quality of Springer and/or Buxton? That is a long way away and really anybody’s guess.
Either way, the Mets signed a very exciting prospect with the potential to be a top 10 prospect in the system in very short order. If I were to rearrange my top 20 prospects list after the signing, Juan would probably be somewhere in the teens on sheer potential, with a chance to be higher this time next year.