Brendan Maye Yankees Top International Target: ‘He Can Fly’
For the third time in the last four international signing periods Yankees signed their target No. 1. Club agreed to the terms signed 17-year-old Cuban outfielder Brandon Maiea to a $4.35 million deal, according to one of his coaches, Angelo Ramos. The agreement also includes a $100,000 stipend.
According to MLB Pipeline, Maiea ranks as the No. 9 prospect in the international class, while FanGraphs ranks him as the No. 2 player eligible to sign this cycle behind 16-year-old catcher Ethan Salas with Parents for $5.6 million. The Yankees first began scouting Maiea nearly three years ago when he was training in the Dominican Republic at Jaime Ramos’ baseball academy. Yankees director of international amateur scouting Donnie Rowland was told by area scouts to keep an eye on the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Maiea because of how good of a prospect he has already become.
“You look at him in center field and you know it’s really good,” Rowland said in a phone interview Monday. “You watch him run and you know he can fly. Then you watch him hit and it’s like, wow, the bat might be his best tool. This is what impressed me the most.”
Once he makes his way through the minors, Rowland views Maye as a “close-out center fielder.” In Maiea’s scouting report, the Yankees call him an “excellent” runner with above-average defensive potential in center, above-average range, an above-average to well-above-average arm and above-average accuracy. Rowland said Maiea’s bat is considered his best tool at the moment, especially when compared to other prospects his age.
FanGraphs noted in their research report that Maheo has the ability to “punish the baseball” because of his high swing. FanGraphs also writes that Mayea is an “exceptional, well-rounded prospect for his age.” MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez wrote in Mayea’s report that international scouts praised the newest Yankee for having “uncanny bat speed and power,” with one evaluator comparing him to a mini-Gary Sheffield.
Angelo Ramos, who has coached Maiea with his brother Jamie for the past three years, believes his client has the potential to eventually become one of the best players in baseball if he hits his ceiling.
“He’s a five-tool player,” Ramos said in a phone interview. “A player I would compare him to Mookie Betts. Mayea has good swing speed, his contact is almost always solid, and he has a good launch angle. Defensively, he is a future Gold Glove winner and capable of playing center field. He is very quick and runs between 6.2 and 6.4 in the 60-yard dash. He has a gun. Off the field, he is a leader who always motivates others. His intelligence is also much higher than others for his age.”
It’s impossible to know what the future holds for Maya. He’s a few years away from even knocking down the door to the big leagues. But Maya’s modern tools are what pushed Rowland toward his future. Rowland said Maiea’s tools and athleticism have continued to be at a high level since the Yankees began scouting him. He has only gotten better over the past three years training in the Dominican Republic.
This belief in Mayea’s future could be seen in the team’s level of investment. The Yankees used just over 82 percent of their $5.284 million bonus pool to acquire Maieu. The club followed a similar strategy when signing their previous top targets. First, there was Jason Dominguez, who was signed for $5.1 million in 2019 as a 16-year-old outfielder from the Dominican Republic. The Yankees signed 17-year-old shortstop Roderick Arias to a $4 million contract in 2022. Like Mayeau in 2023, both received nearly the entire team’s international signing bonus budget. However, Rowland said the three signings shouldn’t be seen as an organizational philosophy of using most of the bonus pool to sign one prospect.
“We evaluate these players well in advance of any ranking of these individual signing classes,” Rowland said. “Furthermore, while signing volume can be a smart strategy in the right circumstances, roster shortages somewhat discourage this option. We thought so much of Dominguez, Arias and Maia that we were very comfortable putting what we put into them. In other years, this may not be the case. It all depends on who the No. 1 target is and how much it takes to sign them.
“The Yankees obviously want the best player on the market, whether it’s internationally or in the draft. It’s not like, “We’ll take the best player no matter what.” This is not the case. I wouldn’t expect that to continue every year. Each situation is independent of itself.”
It is not yet clear where Mayhew’s professional career with the Yankees will begin. Ramos said other Cuban-born players had visa difficulties and needed to stay in their country while the process was resolved. If Maia does stay in the Dominican Republic, he could play in the Dominican Summer League, where Arias played in 2022.
But regardless of where he plays this coming season, the Yankees are thrilled to have him in their organization.
“We think he has a chance to be a great big leaguer,” Rowland said. “He has a long way to go, but he comes with all the equipment he needs.”
(Best photos and videos of Brandon Maia: Courtesy of Angelo Ramos)
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