The 2017 international signing class is a strong one. This year, two players—Dominican shortstop Wander Franco and Venezuelan catcher Daniel Flores—separated themselves at the top of the class.
While typically there are 5-10 players who emerge among the elite prospects in a signing class, the 2017 group has strong depth of top-end talent. Any of the players in the top 15 could fit into a top five in many years.
Players can sign once the 2017-18 international signing period opens on July 2. Prospects with the best combination of tools and skills push their way to the top of the list, particularly if they project to play a premium position and hit at the top or the middle of a lineup. Forecasting the futures of international amateur players who are 15 and 16 involves a tremendous amount of uncertainty, so the lower you go on the list, the thinner the spread in talent becomes, and the more teams' internal preference lists diverge, particularly on pitchers.
Due to the unique nature of how Cuban players become available to sign, they are not included in these rankings, though they are subject to the bonus pools. We will take them on a case-by-case basis to write them up as they sign or become available to sign.
1. Wander Franco, ss, Dominican Republic
Born: March 1, 2001. Height: 5-10. Weight: 170. B-T: B-R.
Franco comes from a baseball family. His uncle is Erick Aybar, a 12-year big leaguer and current Padres shortstop. He has two older brothers—both also named Wander Franco—who are minor league third basemen, a 20-year-old with the Astros in low Class A and a 22-year-old with the Royals in high class A. Franco has separated himself as the best prospect in the Dominican Republic this year with his polished hitting ability, power potential and high overall game savvy while playing in the middle of the diamond.