Projected Destinations For Top 20 International Prospects




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The international signing period opens tomorrow, the first date of the year when 16-year-old foreign players can sign. Here is the latest of what we're hearing on where the Top 20 international prospects for July 2 may end up, with a projected team for each player.

1. FRANKLIN BARRETO, SS/CF, VENEZUELA: Alex Anthopolous has made the Blue Jays one of the most aggressive teams in both the draft and the international market since he became general manager. Barreto is the best player available for July 2, and the Blue Jays have long been viewed as the favorites to land him. Nothing here seems to have changed.
Projected Team: BLUE JAYS.

2. LUIS TORRENS, C, VENEZUELA: Torrens has always stood out for his bat, but he doesn't have impact power and some teams have him ranked lower on their boards because he was playing shortstop and then third base for a long time. His move to catcher boosts his value if he can stick back there. The Yankees have a history of being aggressive internationally for premium catchers, even if there are questions about whether they will remain at the position (see Jesus Montero and Gary Sanchez). It's believed they have become enamored with Torrens, who is trained by former Yankees international scouting director Carlos Rios.
Projected Team: YANKEES.

3. JOSE MUJICA, RHP, VENEZUELA: Mujica is the consensus best pitcher in Latin America and has had several teams pushing hard to try to sign him. Early on it looked like the Blue Jays would try to sign Barreto and Mujica and essentially call it a year, but it now looks like the Blue Jays are going to move elsewhere. The Red Sox, Diamondbacks and Dodgers have all been linked to Mujica before, but now word is that the Rays are the leaders.
Projected Team: RAYS.

4. ALEXANDER PALMA, OF, VENEZUELA: Palma isn't as explosive as Gustavo Cabrera, but he is the best outfielder in Latin America because of his ability to hit in games and a physical frame that should help him hit for power. Teams are expecting the Yankees to be aggressive this year in Venezuela, and it looks like Palma is one of their priority players.
Projected Team: YANKEES.

5. GUSTAVO CABRERA, OF, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: A raw project, Cabrera also is a tool shed. Some teams are willing to pay big money for that skill set, while others need to see more polish with the bat to make a big investment. Who is going to take that risk remains to be seen. Some think it's the Nationals. The Mariners, who have a history of paying big money for Dominican outfielders, could be another option.
Projected Team: NATIONALS.

6. JOSE CASTILLO, LHP, VENEZUELA: Back in February at the MLB showcase in the Dominican Republic, Castillo looked like he might become a nice projection lefty sign in the mid-to-high six-figure range. With the uptick in velocity, he's now going to cost more than $1 million and has a chance to be the top-paid pitcher in Latin America. The Dodgers were connected to Castillo at one point, but the Rays now look like the most likely fit for him.
Projected Team: RAYS.

7. LUIZ GOHARA, LHP, BRAZIL: Some teams have Gohara ranked as the No. 1 pitcher in Latin America, ahead of both Castillo and Mujica. Others haven't even seen him, since teams rarely cover Brazil. The Mariners are the exception, as they have signed players from all over the planet, including Brazil. Sources say the Mariners scouts are extremely high on Gohara, who can sign when he turns 16 on July 31. When the Mariners really want a player, they're tough to beat.
Projected Team: MARINERS.

8. CARLOS BELEN, 3B, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Belen made a rise up the charts this summer thanks to his compact swing and power potential. There are teams that wonder if he's a first baseman or a corner outfielder, but a team that likes his chance to be an impact bat and an average defender at third base could give him a seven-figure bonus. The Padres have scouted him aggressively.
Projected Team: PADRES.

9. LUIS CASTRO, SS, VENEZUELA: Two teams have been linked as potential destinations for Castro, one of Latin America's more polished hitters. The Rockies seemed like favorites early on, but then sources said they believed the Blue Jays were in the lead after they backed off Mujica. Others think the Rockies may still be in the mix. The Blue Jays have also been strongly linked to Barreto and a prominent Dominican shortstop (see below), so they would certainly be pushing the limits of their $2.9 million bonus pool if they could get all three. Right now, most sources think Castro will end up with Barreto in Toronto.
Projected Team: BLUE JAYS.

10. WENDELL RIJO, SS, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Rijo isn't tall, he doesn't hit moonshots in batting practice and he will probably move to second base. A year and a half ago, that's part of the reason the Rangers were able to land Venezuelan shortstop Rougned Odor for $425,000, which now looks like a steal. Rijo's swing isn't quite as pure as Odor's, but he hits in games, shows surprising power for his size and is a better runner, though he's been out of action for a few months since injuring his knee. The Rangers and Yankees have been linked to Rijo (no surprise after they were both on Odor as an amateur), as have the Nationals. The Rangers are tied up waiting for a ruling on Jairo Beras, and while Rijo's knee injury complicates his status, another team might try to pounce quickly.
Projected Team: YANKEES.

11. AMED ROSARIO, SS, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Some teams look at Rosario and see a true shortstop with power who can hit in games, while others see a left fielder with contact issues. The scouting split is wide on Rosario, but his representatives seem to have found a way to push his price to a surprising level. Rosario may end up with one of the top two bonuses out of the Dominican Republic this year, or perhaps even all of Latin America. The Mets are the main team linked here. The Astros were mentioned as having interest at one point, but some think the Mets may be bidding against themselves.
Projected Team: METS.

12. AMAURYS MINIER, SS, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Minier won't play shortstop, but he has a chance to stick at third base if he can clean up his defense. Wherever he plays, a team is buying his bat, particularly his sweet lefty power stroke. Game hitting is still a question, but sources believe the Twins have Minier high on their pref list and are willing to go beyond $1 million to sign him.
Projected Team: TWINS.

13. RICHARD URENA, SS, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Urena has a good chance to stick at shortstop, and if he were a 60 or 70 runner instead of just average, he might have a chance to get more than $1 million. He's still drawn interest as one of the top shortstops in Latin America, perhaps the best among those who will stay at shortstop, depending on what teams think of Amed Rosario. The White Sox and Reds were linked to Urena at one point, but now it looks like Toronto is making an aggressive push.
Projected Team: BLUE JAYS.

14. DAVID RODRIGUEZ, C, VENEZUELA: The Rays, who employed pioneering Venezuelan scout Andres Reiner for a decade before his retirement in December, love Venezuelan players, and being one of only four teams in the country with an academy certainly helps them. They signed Venezuelan catcher Oscar Hernandez before the 2010 season and he's starting to emerge as one of their better prospects in the lower levels of the system. Now the Rays appear to have their sights set on Rodriguez.
Projected Team: RAYS.

15. DEIVI GRULLON, C, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Grullon's representatives scared several teams off early with a huge asking price, but he's a solid defensive catcher who some teams like more than Rodriguez, though Rodriguez is more advanced offensively. The Phillies, Tigers and Athletics were among the teams linked to Grullon at one point, but sources think the Phillies may be ready to make a push.
Projected Team: PHILLIES.

16. JULIO DE LA CRUZ, 3B, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: De la Cruz trains with former major league outfielder Luis Polonia, whose program has ushered several players to the Pirates. Polonia's son, 19-year-old second baseman Rodney Polonia, is with the Pirates in his second year in their Rookie-level Dominican Summer League program. Some sources said the White Sox were on de la Cruz, but others think it's the Pirates, who appear to have the inside track.
Projected Team: PIRATES.

17. JOSE ALMONTE, RHP, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: There isn't a ton of high-end pitching in the Dominican Republic. Some teams think Almonte is the best on the island, though it wouldn't be a surprise if righthander Gabby Vizcaino ended up with a bigger bonus, and the late rise of converted shortstop Osiris Ramirez has put him ahead of Almonte for some clubs. Other teams say the Red Sox scouts are high on Almonte, whose trainer also worked with righthander Simon Mercedes, an $800,000 Boston signing from March.
Projected Team: RED SOX.

18. SERGIO ALCANTARA, SS, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Some teams haven't seen much from Alcantara at the plate, but sources say some inside the Diamondbacks organization have been drawn to Alcantara for his youth (he doesn't turns 16 until July 10), smooth hands and plus arm. They seem to be the main team on Alcantara to this point.
Projected Team: DIAMONDBACKS.

19. FRANDY DE LA ROSA, SS, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: De la Rosa has a nice, simple swing from both sides of the plate; it's just not clear where he's going to play. A team that likes him will probably see him as an offensive-oriented second baseman. A few sources believe the Cubs are the highest team on de la Rosa.
Projected Team: CUBS.

20. JOSE PUJOLS, OF, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Some scouts think Pujols may have the best bat speed and power in Latin America. The question on Pujols is whether he can make enough contact for the power to play in games. He has some similarities to Astros outfielder Domingo Santana, who originally signed with the Phillies four years ago for $330,000, and sources believe the Phillies have Pujols high on their board.
Projected Team: PHILLIES.