Maitan reported to rookie-level Orem last week and has appeared in five game, recording nine hits and a 2:2 BB:K over 20 at-bats. Maitan, the top prospect the Braves were forced to surrender this winter after violating baseball's protocol for international signings, latched on with the Angels in December on a $2.2 million signing bonus. The 18-year-old got off on the wrong foot with his new organization after reporting to camp in poor shape, prompting the Angels to keep him at extended spring training for about two months to work on his conditioning. Maitan is off to a sizzling start in the Pioneer League, but don't expect a quick promotion to a full-season affiliate after he struggled across 42 games with two of the Braves' rookie-level affiliates in 2017.
Maitan is opening the season in extended spring training, MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo reports. This was expected, as Maitan, despite all the hype and pedigree, has not yet had success in a short-season league. He should open the year in the AZL. Evaluators will be looking for offensive production, but also will be keeping a keen eye on the 18-year-old's conditioning, as it will be important for him to keep his weight in check as he moves up the ranks.
Maitan agreed to a contract with the Angels on Tuesday, Buster Olney of ESPN reports. Among the 12 prospects granted free agency as part of the Braves' sanctions for violating international signing guidelines, Maitan was the biggest loss. Maitan struggled at rookie ball in his first professional season (.629 OPS), but he's just 17 and there is still a lot to dream on with the switch-hitter's bat. He will likely be held back to begin 2018, but Maitan may get a look with a full-season affiliate before the end of the campaign.
Maitan will be eligible to sign with another MLB team beginning in two weeks, Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports. Maitan will be allowed to sign elsewhere this offseason after he was declared a free agent by MLB on Tuesday as part of the Braves' punishment for illegal dealings in the international free agent market. Behind Shohei Ohtani, the 17-year-old switch hitter will be the most sought-after international free agent on the market this winter. While he didn't impress in rookie ball last season, he's said to be in significantly better shape heading into 2018 and still carries the potential to provide a plus hit tool and plus-plus raw power. Not many teenage prospects have a fantasy ceiling as high as Maitan's at the moment.
Maitan could be declared a free agent upon the conclusion of MLB's investigation into improprieties regarding his signing in 2016, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports. Former Braves general manager John Coppolella, who resigned Monday, seems to have disregarded many rules during his tenure, and his pursuit of Maitan might be the most well-known of these alleged violations. The Braves seem to have had an agreement in place with Maitan from when he was only 14 years old, and he was essentially working as a Braves prospect in Florida for many months before he was eligible to sign July 2, 2016. Maitan is a prized switch-hitting shortstop/third base prospect, and would be greatly sought after if he were put back on the market. He hit .220/.273/.323 with two home runs and 39 strikeouts in 33 games as a 17-year-old in the Appalachian League, but has as much power and batting average upside as any prospect who has not yet played in a full-season league.
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