Kevin Maitan: The Shohei Otani Consolation Prize

MIAMI, FL - JULY 11: A view of a baseball and bat during batting practice for the 88th MLB All-Star Game at Marlins Park on July 11, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JULY 11: A view of a baseball and bat during batting practice for the 88th MLB All-Star Game at Marlins Park on July 11, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Virtually every team is going to attempt to sign Shohei Otani. For those teams unable to land the Japanese phenom, Kevin Maitan is an excellent consolation prize.

Kevin Maitan was considered the top international free agent last year. The then 16 year old shortstop was considered to be Venezuela’s next great prospect, the top offensive player in the class. A switch hitting shortstop who was considered to be a pure hitter with excellent athleticism, he was considered the best international prospect since Miguel Sano. When he signed with the Atlanta Braves, it appeared as though they had a future star.

And then, it all come unraveled. The Braves were punished for breaking a myriad of rules when it came to signing international free agents, resulting in Maitan, as well as 12 other prospects, being freed from their contracts. Suddenly, one of the top prospects in the game was available once again. In normal circumstances, teams would be falling over themselves to ink the former Braves prospect to a new contract.

These are not normal circumstances. Instead, teams have been hoarding their international signing money in the quest to land Shohei Otani, the most highly anticipated player in recent memory. A rarity as a true two way prospect, Otani is considered to be a franchise changing player, a once in a lifetime talent.

More from Call to the Pen

Understandably, virtually every team is attempting to sign the Japanese phenom. The problem is, there is only one Otani. The other 29 teams around the league are going to miss out, their fanbases disappointed that he will not be heading to their team.

In this case, Maitan makes for an excellent consolation prize. Should he develop as he was projected, and live up to his potential, he could be a future star. Even though he would not have that immediate impact that Otani is expected to, Maitan may well develop into an excellent piece in a few years.

Despite having yet to play a professional game, Maitan’s reputation preceded him heading into the season. He was a consensus top 100 prospect, with ranking him as high as 32nd in the game. Already a highly touted player, he was expected to make an impact in the minors.

He showed his potential during his brief stint in the Braves farm system. Maitan spent only nine games with the Braves Gulf Coast League team before moving to the Danville Braves of the Appalachian League. Combined between the two levels, he produced a respectable .241/.290/.340 batting line, hitting two homers and eight doubles. As he was nearly three years younger then the league average, even in the Gulf Coast League, those numbers are better than they appear.

Obviously, Maitan is still a few years from the majors. Chances are, he will be brought along slowly, given time to develop. However, if he continues to tap into his tremendous potential, and develops quickly, it may not be a surprise to see him in the majors in another three years. At that point, he could be quite the building block for a franchise.

Next: Son remaining in Korea

Kevin Maitan is not Shohei Otani. However, for those teams that were unable to land the Japanese star, he is an excellent consolation prize.