Which Teams Have Signed The Most International Prospects?

Rangers, Tigers stand out for foreign scouting




Follow me on Twitter
Assessing how a team is doing in the international market is always a tricky exercise.

Teams sign international players as young as 16, which means it can take nearly a decade to start to get a clear picture of the results of each year's signing class. There are even players who signed nearly 10 years ago—such as Dominican outfielder Alfredo Silverio, a Marlins Rule 5 pick who signed with the Dodgers in 2003—who are still prospects.

Without having to wait until 2022, one way we can analyze how teams have been doing internationally is to see which organizations have signed the most international prospects in the 2013 Baseball America Prospect Handbook. When we add up the international signings for each club in the 2013 Prospect Handbook, a team gets credit for any player who appears in the book, regardless of the player's current organization.

So the Rangers get credit for Jurickson Profar and Martin Perez, of course, but they also get to count Cubs third baseman Christian Villanueva and Giants lefthander Edwin Escobar toward their total, since both players signed with the Rangers as amateurs before Texas traded them.

The exact number of signings or rankings isn't too important. A few judgment calls on who gets into the back of a team's Top 30 can make the totals fluctuate, while a team that's either drafted poorly or traded away several prospects in recent years might have more room for international signings in their Top 30, which would affect the numbers.

Then there are players who moved relatively quickly to the big leagues, like Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario or righthander Randall Delgado, a Braves signing traded to Arizona in the Justin Upton deal. Those players won't appear on this list even though they signed around the same time as many players who are still prospect-eligible, so we'll make note of some of the big leaguers signed since 2006 where possible.

On the whole, the teams that generally have done the best job in recent years signing international players rise to the top.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
Prospect Handbook International Signings
Team Top 30 Notable Signings
Rangers 15 Jurickson Profar, Martin Perez, Leonys Martin
Tigers 14 Avisail Garcia, Bruce Rondon, Francisco Martinez
Indians 12 Dorssys Paulino, Danny Salazar, Luigi Rodriguez
Mets 12 Luis Mateo, Rafael Montero, Wilmer Flores
Blue Jays 11 Roberto Osuna, Adeiny Hechavarria, Franklin Barreto
Cubs 11 Jorge Soler, Hak-Ju Lee, Jeimer Candelario
Red Sox 11 Xander Bogaerts, Jose Iglesias, Tzu-Wei Lin
Royals 11 Yordano Ventura, Jorge Bonifacio, Adalberto Mondesi
Pirates 10 Luis Heredia, Gregory Polanco, Alen Hanson
Braves 9 Julio Teheran, Christian Bethancourt, Mauricio Cabrera
Reds 9 Daniel Corcino, Didi Gregorius, Ismael Guillon
Twins 8 Miguel Sano, Oswaldo Arcia, Max Kepler
Yankees 8 Gary Sanchez, Arodys Vizcaino, Manny Banuelos
Mariners 8 Victor Sanchez, Luiz Gohara, Gabby Guerrero
Nationals 7 Eury Perez, Sandy Leon, Estarlin Martinez
Phillies 7 Domingo Santana, Maikel Franco, Jonathan Villar
Angels 6 Ariel Pena, Luis Jimenez, Victor Alcantara
Padres 6 Rymer Liriano, Adys Portillo, Yeison Asencio
Marlins 5 Marcell Ozuna, Jose Urena, Jesus Solorzano
Orioles 5 Jonathan Schoop, Eduardo Rodriguez, Henry Urrutia
Rockies 5 Jayson Aquino, Rafael Ortega, Edwar Cabrera
Athletics 4 Renato Nunez, Pedro Figueroa, Michael Ynoa
Cardinals 4 Oscar Taveras, Carlos Martinez, Victor De Leon
Dodgers 4 Hyun-Jin Ryu, Yasiel Puig, Angel Sanchez
Giants 4 Francisco Peguero, Adalberto Mejia, Gustavo Cabrera
Rays 4 Alex Colome, Enny Romero, Felipe Rivero
Brewers 3 Wily Peralta, Orlando Arcia, Santo Manzanillo
Diamondbacks 3 Alfredo Marte, Jose Martinez, Socrates Brito
White Sox 3 Carlos Sanchez, Andre Rienzo, Jefferson Olacio
Astros 2 Jose Cisnero, Chia-Jen Lo

Rangers: For the last several years, the Rangers have consistently come close to the top of the pack in international prospects. Former international scouting director A.J. Preller (now the team's director of player personnel) helped build the program and still remains involved in the Rangers' acquisition of foreign talent, while current international scouting director Mike Daly has continued to bring in quality international prospects.

One of the impressive aspects of the Rangers' international scouting has been that, with the exception of Esdras Abreu (signed for $550,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2008 and released after three seasons in the Dominican Summer League), when the Rangers have spent big money, they haven't had any huge misses. Profar, Martin Perez, Luis Sardinas, Jorge Alfaro and Rougned Odor were all among the top-paid players in their signing classes. It's still early in the process, but they all look like quality signings.

It's only been in the last two years when the Rangers have really revved up their spending on players like Nomar Mazara, Jairo Beras, Ronald Guzman, Yohander Mendez and foreign professionals like Yu Darvish and Leonys Martin, but their ability to avoid the landmines of high-priced international amateur free agent busts is unusual. Beyond those players, the Rangers also have prospects like Venezuelan outfielder Eduard Pinto and Venezuelan catcher Carlos Garay who would probably crack the Top 30s of a lot of teams, but the Rangers' farm system is too deep to include them at this point.

Tigers: The Tigers signed more international prospects than any team in last year's Prospect Handbook and are close to the top of the list again this year. The Tigers are one of four teams with a Venezuelan academy and it's evident in the number of prospects they have from that country. Outfielder Avisail Garcia and reliever Bruce Rondon could play significant roles in Detroit in 2013, while third baseman Francisco Martinez was a key prospect in the 2011 trade that brought Doug Fister to the Tigers. Other than Venezuelan outfielder Danry Vasquez, who signed for $1.2 million in 2010 and is now the team's No. 6 prospect, Tigers international scouting director Tom Moore and Latin American director Miguel Garcia haven't targeted the seven-figure bonus babies that many other teams have gone after in recent years.

Indians: A lull in Cleveland's international scouting has meant that few international players have helped the big league team in recent years, but Indians senior director of scouting operations John Mirabelli and Latin American director Ramon Pena have brought a handful of intriguing players into the lower levels of the system. It's only been a year, but 2011 could be a big year for the Indians with the signings of Dominican shortstop Dorssys Paulino as well as outfielder Anthony Santander and lefthander Luis Lugo from Venezuela.

Mets: The Mets have a potential impact bat in Wilmer Flores, who was one of the top prospects out of Venezuela when he signed in 2007. The real impressive part of the Mets during the tenure of Ismael Cruz, who ran the Mets international scouting until fall 2011, is the volume of quality Dominican pitching prospects their scouts were able to identify without paying premium dollars to acquire them. In addition to Jenrry Mejia, the Mets signed Luis Mateo, Rafael Montero, Jeurys Familia, Domingo Tapia, Hansel Robles, Maikel Cleto and Gabriel Ynoa at reasonable prices out of the Dominican Republic.

The Mets signed lefthander Jose Quintana out of Colombia in 2006 and he went on to have a surprisingly successful big league season with the White Sox in 2012. The Mets released Quintana before he ever reached the United States, but he's another quality arm the organization's scouts have found in Latin America in recent years.

Blue Jays: In addition to Venezuelan righthander Henderson Alvarez (who spent all of 2012 in the big leagues at age 22) and Dominican outfielder Moises Sierra, the Blue Jays also signed Venezuelan righthander Nestor Molina (traded to the White Sox for Sergio Santos) and pricey Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, now with the Marlins. Most of the Blue Jays' most exciting international signings, however, are in the lower levels. Mexican righthander Roberto Osuna was arguably the best international pitching prospect signed in 2011, though Mariners righthander Victor Sanchez was impressive in his debut as well. Venezuelan shortstop Franklin Barreto was the best 16-year-old player signed in 2012. The Blue Jays also have a slew of arms at the lower levels signed by Marco Paddy before he left after the 2011 season to run international scouting with the White Sox.

Cubs: The Cubs paid a lot of money for a lot of fringy Cuban prospects in recent years, but they got a good one in Jorge Soler. They are one of the most active teams in the Far East, which helped them sign Japanese righthander Kyuji Fujikawa after the 2012 season and Korean shortstop Hak-Ju Lee (now with the Rays) out of high school in 2008. In Latin America, Castro has been the team's crown jewel, while players like third baseman Jeimer Candelario and second baseman Gioskar Amaya are quality bats with breakout potential.

Red Sox: Aruban shortstop Xander Bogaerts has the makings of a future star and is by far the team's best international signing in years. Cuban shortstop Jose Iglesias may never hit, but behind him the Red Sox have added promising depth at premium positions in the lower levels of the farm system with Taiwanese shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin, Dominican shortstop Jose Vinicio and Dominican center fielder Manuel Margot, among others.

Royals: Dayton Moore has shown a proclivity for adding ex-Braves since he left Atlanta to become the general manager of the Royals. Perhaps his best addition among former Braves has been Rene Francisco, who has helped transform Kansas City's international program since he took over in June 2006, along with Latin American supervisor Orlando Estevez. Venezuelan catcher Salvador Perez and Dominican righthander Kelvin Herrera are already playing key roles in the big leagues after signing in 2006. Dominican righthander Yordano Ventura threw in the mid-80s when he signed for $28,000 in 2008; now he touches triple digits and averaged 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings in the high Class A Carolina League last year. Dominican outfielder Jorge Bonifacio is a potential impact bat in the low Class A Midwest League. Paying $2 million for Dominican shortstop Adalberto Mondesi seemed like a big stretch for a lot of teams in 2011, but he ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the Rookie-level Pioneer League in 2012.

Pirates: Pittsburgh's international crop took a big leap forward this year with the emergence of Dominican shortstop Alen Hanson and Dominican center fielder Gregory Polanco in the low Class A South Atlantic League. Mexican righthander Luis Heredia was a much more highly-touted pitching prospect when he signed in 2010; so far the early returns have been promising. Colombian second baseman Dilson Herrera is another gifted hitter the Pirates found in Latin America. The Pirates aren't afraid to go against industry consensus with signings of players like Colombian outfielder Harold Ramirez ($1.05 million) and Venezuelan outfielder Elvis Escobar ($570,000) in 2011 or Dominican outfielder Michael de la Cruz ($700,000) in 2012, but they have a trio of Latin American prospects in Heredia, Polanco and Hanson that can stack up against just about anyone's in baseball.

Cardinals: The Cardinals are down toward the bottom of the list, but while they may not have as much depth as other teams, they have the best Dominican position prospect in baseball (Oscar Taveras) and one of the best international pitching prospects in the game (Carlos Martinez. Few teams can match that type of impact talent from the international ranks.