Top International Free Agents
Projecting the future of international prospects who are 15 and 16 years old involves a high level of risk and uncertainty. For the 2018 class, that is particularly true, with little consensus in the international scouting community on even the top 2018 players. In general, scouts seemed more enthusiastic about last year’s strong 2017 class and another talented group ahead in 2019. That made it a challenge to line up the top prospects in the 2018 class, particularly with the reality that players have had commitments in place to sign with clubs for more than a year in some cases.
This year’s list also includes Cuban players who are subject to the international bonus pools. While 21-year-old outfielder Victor Mesa is an exception, most of the top Cuban players out now are in the same age group as the top 16-year-old players from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. However, due to the circumstances of how Cuban players are scouted and become eligible to sign, there are Cuban players who might belong on the list but have been omitted until more information on them becomes available.
These are Baseball America’s top 50 international prospects for the 2018-19 international signing period, which opens on July 2.
- 1Cuba OFNotes:
Born: July 20, 1996 | Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 185 | B-T: R-R
Scouting Report: Victor Mesa was one of the all-time great Cuban baseball players through the 1980s and ’90s, a career .317/.383/.502 hitter who ranks second all time in stolen bases (589) and 15th in home runs (273). After his playing career ended, Mesa managed both in Serie Nacional and for the Cuban national team. Now his son, who shares his name, is training in the Dominican Republic (along with his younger brother, outfielder Victor Mesa Jr.) to sign with a major league team. Mesa, who goes by “Victor Victor” (that was even the name on the back of his uniform in Cuba) is a premium athlete who hit well throughout the Cuban junior leagues and briefly in Serie Nacional at a young age, though he has been hampered by injuries, with a lot of similarities to Nationals center fielder Victor Robles. Mesa’s tools have long jumped out in center field, where he is an elite defender. Mesa is a plus-plus runner with a quick first step, getting good reads off the bat and taking precise angles to the ball. Mesa’s speed and instincts help him cover wide ranges of ground with a knack for racking up highlight-reel catches. He also has shown at least a 70 arm to nail runners and prevent them from taking extra bases. During the 2016-17 season in Cuba, Mesa batted .354/.399/.539 in 70 games, with more extra-base hits (27) than strikeouts (19) and 40 stolen bases in 50 attempts. Mesa has quick bat speed, an aggressive approach and has a chance to hit toward the top of a lineup. Mesa is training in the Dominican Republic, though he has yet to begin showcasing for teams. MLB has not yet declared him a free agent, so he won’t be signing immediately on July 2. Based on his present ability, Mesa could fit in at the high Class A or Double-A level right now.
Marco LucianoDominican Republic SSVideoNotes:
Born: Oct. 9, 2001 | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 180 | B-T: R-R
Scouting Report: In a year that lacks a consensus top 16-year-old international prospect, Luciano has an exciting combination of offensive upside and athleticism, with a compact, explosive swing that produces effortless power. Luciano has strong hands, quick wrists and generates snappy bat speed, using his lower half well with good rhythm and swing path. He generates impressive torque in his swing and shows plus power to all fields. He does it both in batting practice and against live pitching, with home runs to his pull side and the opposite way in games. With broad shoulders on a lean, well-proportioned frame, Luciano has the physical projection to potentially develop 70 power. While some scouts had concerns about swing-and-miss tendencies they saw early on from Luciano, he has cut down on that and generally manages his at-bats well with a solid feel for the strike zone for his age. He is a good athlete with slightly above-average speed. Luciano grew up playing shortstop, but when he hit a growth spurt, his trainer moved him to the outfield. He spent eight months in the outfield, then in February 2017 moved back to shortstop. While some scouts still believe Luciano will outgrow shortstop and end up at either third base or right field, he handles himself well at shortstop for now. Luciano isn’t flashy but he fields his position cleanly, making the routine plays with a strong, accurate arm. Luciano trains with Ray Castillo and is expected to sign with the Giants for a bonus in the $2.5 million area.
Diego CartayaVenezuela CVideoNotes:
Born: Sept. 7, 2001 | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 200 | B-T: R-R
Scouting Report: Cartaya has represented Venezuela at international tournaments since he was 10. That extensive game experience shows in the way he plays with a high baseball IQ well beyond his years, with a well-rounded skill set for a catcher. Cartaya projects to stick behind the plate with the potential to develop into an above-average defender. He has a plus arm and a quick exchange, with pop times in games in the low 1.9s. He blocks and receives pitches well for his age, showing good flexibility, agility and defensive instincts. Cartaya’s baseball acumen shows on both sides of the ball. He has a short, quick swing and focuses on driving the ball to center and right-center field in batting practice. He’s a polished hitter for his age with a sharp handle on the strike zone, recognizing pitches and not chasing much off the plate. Cartaya’s hitting ability and plate discipline should make him a high OBP catcher who can hit toward the top of a lineup. His power is mostly to the gaps now, but with his size, he could grow into average power once he gets stronger and gains a better awareness of which pitches he can turn on to drive with authority. While catching at the MLB international showcase in February, Cartaya reached out to receive a pitch in anticipation of throwing to second, but the batter’s swing struck him on the left elbow and he was wearing a sling after the game. He has since rehabbed and is back to normal catching and throwing again. The Dodgers are the favorites to sign Cartaya, who trains with Alexi Quiroz.
Noelvi MarteDominican Republic SSVideoNotes:
Born: Oct. 16, 2001 | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 180 | B-T: R-R
Scouting Report: When the Dominican Prospect League brought its top players to Joliet, Illinois last summer, Marte and Marco Luciano stood out as the two best prospects there and two of the best prospects in the 2018 class, with scouts split on which player they preferred. Marte has a strong track record of hitting, getting on base and hitting for power in games. He has a smooth swing with good rhythm, loading with an aggressive leg kick along the lines of Jose Bautista last summer, though he has since toned that down, using his whole body to generate power. Marte has a fluid, easy stroke that’s compact and geared to get the ball elevated, although he can get pull-happy at times. Last summer, he also showed explosive bat speed and above-average raw power, but he hasn’t looked as electric in subsequent showings. Marte is a good athlete with plus speed underway, although given his body type, scouts aren’t sure how much of his speed he will retain. Marte has a strong arm and should get a chance to start his career at shortstop, but he will need to improve his hands and footwork, leading many scouts to believe he fits best at third base. Marte, who trains with Banana, is expected to sign for around $2 million, likely with the Mariners.
Osiel RodriguezCuba RHPVideoNotes:
Born: Nov. 22, 2001 | Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 205 | B-T: R-R
Scouting Report: Rodriguez was the best Cuban pitcher in his age group before he left the country to sign with a major league club. As a 14-year-old pitching in Cuba’s 15U national league in 2016, Rodriguez ranked first in ERA (0.39) in 69 innings. He struck out 127 batters (third in the league) and walked 27. Later that year, Rodriguez won a gold medal pitching for Cuba in the 15U World Cup in Japan, where he posted a 1.50 ERA and a 14-3 K-BB mark in two starts. At that time, Rodriguez was a 6-foot, 165-pound 14-year-old throwing in the mid-80s, but he has since grown bigger, stronger and developed into a pitcher with an impressive combination of power and feel. He’s one of the hardest throwers in the class, reaching 96 mph. While his velocity has fluctuated, he typically sits around 90-94 mph with late finish in the zone. Rodriguez throws hard but frequently throws his slider, an out pitch that flashes plus and produces a lot of empty swings. Like a lot of Cuban pitchers, Rodriguez varies his arm slot intentionally, which causes his slider to have three-quarters break or criss-cross in and out of the strike zone. Rodriguez also shows feel for a splitter/changeup. Compared to Venezuelan righthander Richard Gallardo, Rodriguez has more of an unorthodox delivery and his arm action isn’t as clean, but he is a strike thrower with feel for pitching beyond his years. The Yankees are the favorites to sign Rodriguez, who is expected to land a bonus just north of $1 million.
Richard GallardoVenezuela RHPVideoNotes:
Born: Sept. 6, 2001 | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 185 | B-T: R-R
Scouting Report: Gallardo pitched for Venezuela at the 15U World Cup in Japan in 2016, then over the next two years broke out to establish himself as the top 2018 pitcher in the country and for some scouts the top pitcher in the entire class. Gallardo dazzled at the MLB international showcase in February, striking out six of the seven batters he faced. Gallardo has an impressive blend of present stuff, future projection, feel for pitching and ease of operation. He has one of the best fastballs in the class, pitching at 89-93 mph, with late life up in the zone to miss bats. He has the arm speed and physical upside to throw harder in the next few years. Gallardo throws a curveball from 70-75 mph that flashes as a plus pitch with sharp break and good rotation. He complements high quality stuff with advanced strike-throwing ability and fastball command for his age. Between his stuff, control and easy delivery, Gallardo has all the attributes to project as a starter, with a strong frame that bodes well for his durability. The Cubs are expected to sign Gallardo, who trains with Andres Veliz.
Orelvis MartinezDominican Republic SSVideoNotes:
Born: Nov. 19, 2001 | Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 180 | B-T: R-R
Scouting Report: While it remains to be seen what happens with Cuban outfielder Victor Mesa, the top signing bonus this year for a 16-year-old international player is expected to go to Martinez, who is projected to sign with the Blue Jays for more than $3 million. Martinez trains with Rudy Santin, whose program last year produced the No. 1 international prospect for 2017, Wander Franco, a switch-hitting Dominican shortstop who consistently dominated at the plate. Martinez isn’t at Franco’s level—there isn’t one 2018 hitter from the Dominican Republic who has clearly separated himself with overwhelming performance—but Martinez stood out for his ability to drive the ball with impact from an early age. Martinez starts his swing with the bat wrapped behind his head, which adds extra length for the barrel to travel, but he has quick hands and keeps them inside the ball well. He has a calm, relaxed swing that generates loft and easy power from right-center field over to his pull side, with the physical projection to develop plus power. Martinez has shown solid game performance in terms of both hitting ability and power, though some scouts have reservations about the adjustability of his swing. Martinez might begin his career at shortstop, but he projects better at third base. A slightly below-average runner, Martinez has soft hands and a strong arm, but he’s a physical player who could grow to 220-230 pounds, with his range better suited for third.
Gabriel RodriguezVenezuela SSVideoNotes:
Born: Feb. 22, 2002 | Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 175 | B-T: R-R
Scouting Report: Rodriguez is one of the most talented hitters in the class, with a long track record of hitting in games, including last year as Venezuela’s shortstop at the COPABE 15U Pan American Championships in Colombia. Rodriguez has a short, simple swing that’s balanced, direct and efficient. He a mature hitting approach, tracking pitches well with good strike-zone discipline and the ability to use the whole field. Rodriguez has a chance to develop into a plus hitter, with emerging power as well over the last year as his strength has increased. His raw power is near average now, with a chance to develop into a 20-homer hitter. Rodriguez has the ability to stay at shortstop for now, though many scouts project him to eventually slide over to third base. Rodriguez has a strong arm, good body control and his defensive mechanics are sound, but his first-step quickness and lateral agility will need to improve to stay at the position. Whether his future is at shortstop or third base, his offensive production projects well at either spot, and he earns widespread praise as a baseball rat. Rodriguez trains with Javier Mendoza and is expected to sign with the Indians.
Francisco AlvarezVenezuela CVideoNotes:
Born: Nov. 19, 2001 | Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 190 | B-T: R-R
Scouting Report: As a little kid in Venezuela, Alvarez used to tag along with his father and help him carry around bags of concrete at his job as a construction worker. He has grown into a strong, physically mature player for his age with one of the best offensive performance records in the 2018 class. Alvarez has a stout, stocky frame, with big feet, strong hands and forearms. He has a long track record of being one of the top hitters everywhere he has played, including against older competition. Alvarez has a short, explosive stroke that produces above-average raw power, with the power translating in games. He has an advanced hitting approach for his age, driving the ball well to the middle of the field and the opposite way. His ability to track pitches well enables him to let the ball travel deep before making a decision to swing. Alvarez moves surprisingly well underway given his blocky build, with a tick below-average speed. The biggest risk factor scouts point to with Alvarez is his defense. He has above-average arm strength that doesn’t always play up to its full grade but should with more experience. His receiving and lateral agility will need the most work, leaving some scouts with concerns about his ability to stick behind the plate. Others think he has the attributes to remain a catcher and just needs experience to learn to slow the game down. The Mets are the frontrunners to land Alvarez, who trains with Javier Mendoza.
Misael UrbinaVenezuela OFVideoNotes:
Born: April 26, 2002 | Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 170 | B-T: R-R
Scouting Report: Urbina is expected to be the top-paid player this year from Venezuela, with the Twins likely to sign him. While other position players ahead of Urbina will likely switch positions down the road, Urbina projects to stick at a premium position. An energetic, high-intensity player, Urbina is an athletic center fielder with plus speed and good range. He works diligently on his defense has strong instincts for his age in center field. Urbina gets good jumps off the bat with clean routes to the ball, good closing speed and a tick below-average arm. Urbina’s bat drew a split camp among scouts. He does have good bat speed and, even though he’s not that big, puts a surprising charge into the ball, flashing occasional over-the-fence power to his pull side during batting practice. Scouts highest on Urbina have seen him perform well in games with a compact swing, though others didn’t see the same level of performance and had concerns about his swing path. Urbina is represented by Yasser Mendez.
Jairo PomaresCuba OFVideoNotes:
Born: Aug. 4, 2000 | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 185 | B-T: L-R
Scouting Report: Pomares played in Cuba’s 15U national league in 2015, when he ranked sixth in the league in batting average by hitting .383/.447/.533 with 16 walks and just six strikeouts in 141 plate appearances. Now a 17-year-old in the Dominican Republic, Pomares has a large, athletic frame with promising offensive upside and a pretty swing from the left side. It’s a fluid stroke that’s quick, compact and efficient, producing a high contact rate in games. Pomares has natural, easy hitting actions, with good rhythm and timing in the box to go with a solid idea of the strike zone for his age. Pomares shows over-the-fence power in batting practice, though in games his swing is more geared for line drives than loft, with the potential for average power. Pomares is a good athlete who has shown plus speed underway in the 60-yard dash. When Pomares played in Cuba in 2015, he mostly played left field with a little bit of time in right field as well. With an average arm, Pomares has the speed for center field and scouts highest on him thought he could play there, though others thought his defensive instincts were better suited for a corner. The Giants are expected to sign Pomares, with a bonus likely around $1 million.
Alvin GuzmanDominican Republic OFVideoNotes:
Born: Oct. 20, 2001 | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 165 | B-T: R-R
Scouting Report: Guzman, who trains with Alfredo Arias, sticks out for his bouncy athleticism and highly projectable body type at a premium position. He has a lean build with a high waist and plenty of space to fill out and add strength to a physically underdeveloped build. He has plus speed and good defensive instincts to stick in center field, along with a plus arm that could get stronger once he puts on weight. Guzman isn’t raw at the plate, but he does stand out more for his athleticism than his pure hitting ability. When he’s locked in, he can hit hard line drives all over the field with the power to drive the ball over the fence to his pull side, but he has a quick front hip with his shoulder flying open early, which gets his swing out of sync and disrupts his balance. His athleticism should help him make adjustments, while getting stronger should help him with the consistency of his mechanics. Guzman is expected to sign with the D-backs, with a bonus likely in the $2 million range.
Alejandro PieDominican Republic SSVideoNotes:
Born: Jan. 31, 2002 | Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 175 | B-T: R-R
Scouting Report: Pie has a different look as a shortstop with a tall, rangy body type along the lines of Mets shortstop Ronny Mauricio, who signed last year for $2.1 million. In part because of his body type, Pie draws a range of future projections from scouts. Pie is an athletic shortstop with plus speed and a plus arm. Even though he’s tall and skinny, Pie has good body control in the field. In MLB’s Dominican national showcase in November, Pie made several nice defensive plays that showed good hands and instincts, ranging well to both sides and charging in on the ball. Pie has a good internal clock, knowing when to be quick and when to slow things down. Pie should get a chance to stay at shortstop, though center field could be another option, while some scouts think once he fills out he projects better at third base or right field. At the plate, Pie has generally performed well in games, with solid bat speed and the ability to hammer fastballs. However, curveballs have given him a lot of trouble, and he will have to improve his selectivity at the plate to reduce his swing-and-miss rate. With his physical projection, Pie could grow into average to plus power. Pie isn’t as advanced as Mauricio but he’s expected to be compensated similarly, with the Rays the favorites. He trains with Astin Jacobo.
Antonio GomezVenezuela CVideoNotes:
Born: Nov. 13, 2001 | Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 205 | B-T: R-R
Scouting Report: Gomez has the tools to be a top-tier defensive catcher. It starts with his arm, a 70 tool on the 20-80 scale. Between his outstanding arm strength, quick feet and ability to get rid of the ball in a hurry, Gomez regularly produces pop times below 1.9 seconds, which is elite for a major league catcher, getting down to the high 1.7s and low 1.8s. At the MLB international showcase in February, Gomez threw out four runners, including one with a pop time of 1.83 seconds and another from he knees with a 1.91 second pop time. Gomez does need to improve his receiving, but that should develop with experience. Offensively, Gomez hasn’t shown the same polish as Diego Cartaya or raw power of Francisco Alvarez, but he has shown a promising balance of hitting ability and emerging power for a catcher. Early on, Gomez didn’t stand out at the plate, but since then he has shown solid bat-to-ball skills, squaring up premium velocity and using the whole field. Gomez had gap power coming into the year, but he has shown more extra-base sock especially toward right-center field this year. Gomez hits with an upright stance, so there could be more power to unlick once he incorporates his lower half more into his swing. The Yankees are the frontrunners to sign Gomez, who is represented by Felix Luzon.
Kevin AlcantaraDominican Republic OFVideoNotes:
Born: July 12, 2002 | Ht: 6-5 | Wt: 175 | B-T: R-R
Scouting Report: Alcantara has a tall, sleek, athletic frame, with a promising combination of size and tools from a player who could stick at a premium position. Alcantara is a plus-plus runner with long strides and good closing speed in center field, along with a 55 arm. He’s a diligent worker on his defense, using BP to work on his reads and run down balls off the bat, and it translates into good outfield instincts for his age. There aren’t many 6-foot-5 center fielders in the big leagues, and while Alcantara could lose a step as he fills out his long, lanky build, if he can maintain plus speed he could stick in center field along the lines of Dexter Fowler. Scouts highest on Alcantara have seen him hit well in games. Others saw a long swing, and like most young, long-armed hitters, Alcantara does have holes that he will require adjustments as he matures. Alcantara has the power to drive the ball over the fence to his pull side right now, though he can get himself into trouble when he tries to sell out for power. The Yankees are the favorites to sign Alcantara, who trains with Jose Offerman, once he turns 16 on July 2, with an expected price around $1 million.
Starlyn CastilloDominican Republic RHPVideoNotes:
Born: Feb. 24, 2002 | Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 210 | B-T: R-R
Scouting Report: Generally, the top 16-year-old pitching prospects in the Dominican Republic are wiry, athletic pitchers with quick arm speed and the potential to throw harder once they fill out. Castillo is different. While he’s not that tall, Castillo is built like a young linebacker with a physically mature frame, a wide back, strong legs and little physical projection remaining. He’s also the hardest thrower his age in the Dominican Republic and one of the hardest throwers in the 2018 class, with a fastball that reached 97 mph shortly before his 16th birthday when he pitched in the MLB international showcase in February. and struck out four of the nine batters he faced. His fastball sat at 92-96 mph that day, up a bit from where it had been previously. Between that event and the MLB Dominican national showcase in November, Castillo struck out seven of the 17 batters he faced. Castillo’s fastball alone is enough to overpower most hitters his age. He’s more than just a thrower, flashing feel for a power breaking ball and a solid changeup at times, though they are both inconsistent and disappear on him at times. His control is the same, as he’s a solid strike-thrower sometimes but can be erratic at others when he flies open with his front side. Castillo hasn’t shown the same level of pitchability as fellow 2018 righthanders Osiel Rodriguez and Richard Gallardo, and while he doesn’t match Cuban righthander Sandy Gaston’s pure velocity, Castillo throws more strikes and has better secondary stuff than Gaston. Castillo is projected to be the top-paid Dominican pitcher this year with a bonus likely around $1.5 million. He trains with Mejia and is expected to sign with the Phillies.
Jose de la CruzDominican Republic OFVideoNotes:
Born: Jan. 3, 2002 | Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 195 | B-T: R-R
Scouting Report: An athletic outfielder with a strong, compact build, De la Cruz has some of the best tools in the class. While his body type looks more like a corner outfielder, de la Cruz has plus speed underway and reads the ball well off the bat in center field. If de la Cruz can retain his speed, he should be able to play center field, though if not his plus arm would fit comfortably in right field. While de la Cruz shows good instincts in the outfield, he hasn’t shown the same at the plate. While some scouts who followed de la Cruz early in the process said they did see him hit well in games, more recently he has shown high swing-and-miss tendencies, on fastballs in and out of the strike zone as well as offspeed stuff. While de la Cruz will have to make adjustments at the plate with his timing and contact, he has plenty of bat speed and strength in his swing. While there is some stiffness to his stroke, when he connects he makes loud, quality contact and drives the ball well to the middle of the field, with a chance to grow into plus power. De la Cruz trains with El Niche and is expected to sign for close to $2 million, with the Tigers the frontrunners.
Omar FlorentinoDominican Republic SSVideoNotes:
Born: Oct. 26, 2001 | Ht: 5-9 | Wt: 145 | B-T: B-R
Scouting Report: Florentino has a smaller stature but is a skilled player with good actions at the plate and in the field. Florentino has a lively, athletic frame and hits from both sides of the plate with a swing that’s quick, simple and efficient with fast bat speed. He has good hand-eye coordination and makes frequent contact. Florentino is mostly a singles hitter right now with a line-drive focus, occasionally putting a surprising charge into the ball. He has a smaller strike zone and usually does a good job of not expanding it by chasing. Florentino is a solid-average runner with a good chance to stick at shortstop. He’s a smooth defender with a quick first step, nimble footwork, soft hands and a quick transfer to a strong arm, although there are some scouts who think he might end up at second base. Players with Florentino’s size don’t typically command top-tier signing bonuses, although several scouts were high on Florentino for his game polish on both sides of the ball while playing a premium position. Florentino trains with Wellington Gonzalez and is expected to sign with the Royals.
Juan GuerreroDominican Republic SSVideoNotes:
Born: Sept. 10, 2001 | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 160 | B-T: R-R
Scouting Report: Guerrero is a well-rounded player who has performed well in games. In batting practice, Guerrero loads up his swing with a deep leg kick, then in games switches back and forth between the leg kick and a quick heel turn. Regardless of which approach Guerrero takes with his lower half mechanics, he has a knack for being on time with good rhythm and the barrel accuracy to consistently find the sweet spot for hard contact in games. Guerrero doesn’t put on a big show in BP, but he drives the ball with authority in games, striking hard line drives around the field with extra-base thump and pull-side power that should continue to grow once he fills out his projectable frame. He shows a solid idea of the strike zone as well. Guerrero has the hands and defensive actions to stay in the infield, and some scouts felt he was a true shortstop with good instincts and athleticism. Others thought he would fit better at second or third base, while some thought he could be a fit in center field with a tick above-average speed underway. The Rockies are expected to sign Guerrero, who trains with Policar and Juan Rodriguez.
Eduardo LopezDominican Republic OFVideoNotes:
Born: May 8, 2002 | Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 170 | B-T: B-R
Scouting Report: There are other outfielders in the Dominican Republic with louder tools, but Lopez is one of the best hitters and more skillful players in the country. Lopez is a switch-hitter with a smooth, fluid stroke from both sides. His swing is simple and compact, and with Lopez’s bat control and hand-eye coordination, he seldom swings and misses. He tracks pitches well and has good strike-zone judgment, with a selective approach to work himself into favorable counts and the discipline to lay off close pitches. Lopez is a line-drive hitter with doubles pop, and given his build, his offensive game will likely be built around his ability to get on base more than power. While Lopez is a talented hitter, his below-average speed might be short for center field, so going to a corner would place greater demands on his power developing. Given his youth and physically underdeveloped frame, it’s possible that Lopez’s speed and 40-45 arm could still tick up, and he does have strong defensive instincts with good reads and routes. Lopez, who trains with Aldo Marrero, is likely to sign for a bonus in the $1.5 million area, with the Red Sox the favorites.
Junior SanquintinDominican Republic SSVideoNotes:
Born: Jan. 8, 2002 | Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 185 | B-T: B-R
Scouting Report: While Sanquintin might not stay at shortstop for long, it’s his offensive potential that is the draw for scouts. He has fast bat speed from both sides of the plate and has flashed average raw power. There’s strength in his swing and he drives the ball with impact when he finds the barrel. Scouts highest on Sanquintin saw strong game performance from him last summer, although at MLB showcases he did have a high swing-and-miss rate, on pitches in and out of the strike zone. He’s an aggressive hitter who will have to make adjustments to take a more selective approach against better pitching. Sanquintin might start his career at shortstop but doesn’t figure to stay there much longer. Hitting comes more naturally to Sanquintin than defense, and while some scouts have questions on whether he will end up in an outfield corner, his fielding has improved over the past year. With more development, he has a chance to play third base. The Indians are the favorites to sign Sanquintin, with a bonus likely coming in a little above $1 million. He trains with Wilkin Ramirez and Jaime Ramos.
Abraham CalzadillaVenezuela RHPVideoNotes:
Born: Dec. 12, 2001 | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 165 | B-T: R-R
Scouting Report: Calzadilla has a starter profile, with an encouraging blend of stuff and pitching savvy for his age. Calzadilla was one of the standout pitching prospects at the MLB international showcase in February in the Dominican Republic, where he struck out four of the eight batters he faced. He threw his fastball 88-91 mph there, and while pitching in Venezuela, he has topped out at 92 mph. It’s a big fastball for a 16-year-old and he throws it for strikes to both sides of the plate. His curveball flashes as an average pitch already with the potential to develop into a true out pitch, showing tight rotation and good depth to catch hitters off balance. While Calzadilla’s curveball is his best offspeed pitch, he shows feel for a low-80s changeup, giving him the potential for three average or better pitches. Some scouts saw bouts of inconsistent control, but Calzadilla has generally shown polished pitchability for his age with good results in games, along with the body control and athleticism to repeat his mechanics and field his position well. Calzadilla trains with Robert Perez and is expected to sign with the D-backs.
Jerming RosarioDominican Republic RHPVideoNotes:
Born: May 8, 2002 | Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 160 | B-T: R-R
Scouting Report: Many of the best pitching prospects in the game today who are from the Dominican Republic signed for small bonuses. It’s difficult to know which pitchers will see their velocity spike, stay healthy and remain in the starting rotation. Rosario separates himself from his peers is the Dominican Republic as an athletic righthander with the arrow pointing in the right direction on his stuff, possessing the attributes to project as a starter with a three-pitch mix and solid strike-throwing ability. Rosario throws 88-91 mph, with quick arm speed and plenty of space left on his skinny, projectable frame to fill out and throw harder. Rosario’s 79-82 mph changeup is advanced for his age, throwing off the balance and timing of opposing hitters. He sells it well by repeating his arm speed, with good action and separation off his fastball. His curveball is inconsistent, but at its best it shows sharp bite and good depth. The Dodgers are likely to sign Rosario for a bonus in the mid six figures. He trains with Franklin Ferreras.
Sandy GastonCuba RHPVideoNotes:
Born: Dec. 16, 2001 | Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 205 | B-T: R-R
Scouting Report: When Gaston pitched in Cuba’s 15U national league in 2016, his 1.22 ERA ranked third in the league, trailing only fellow 2018 righthander Osiel Rodriguez and Astros righthander Franny Cobos. Gason struck out 77 and walked 27 over 66.1 innings that season. When he moved up to the country’s 18U league the next year, he posted a 47-46 K-BB mark in 47 innings with a 5.55 ERA, a shaky showing albeit from a 15-year-old pitching in an 18U league. Since leaving Cuba, Gaston has added an extra gear to his stuff to become the hardest thrower in the 2018 class. At the MLB international showcase in February, Gaston sat at 94-96 mph and reached 97. He has thrown even harder than that, reaching 100 mph in May. That is uncanny velocity for his age and makes him one of the hardest throwing 16-year-old pitchers ever. The question is whether Gaston will develop else beyond high-octane velocity. He throws a slider, a curveball, a changeup and a splitter, but he lacks feel for his secondary stuff to be able to miss bats with them. One of the biggest concerns among Gaston is his control. Gaston has a long arm stroke, and while some scouts who have seen him recently said his delivery looked more under control, he has been prone to extreme wildness. Gaston isn’t as big as Marlins righthander Tyler Kolek, but he has a lot of similarities to the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 draft. The Marlins are the favorites to sign Gaston, whose bonus is expected to push close to $3 million.
Alexander RamirezDominican Republic OFVideoNotes:
Born: Aug. 29, 2002 | Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 180 | B-T: R-R
Scouting Report: To be eligible to sign during the 2018-19 signing period, a player has to turn 16 by Aug. 31. Ramirez will be eligible to sign when he turns on Aug. 29, which makes him one of the youngest players in the 2018 class and only a few days away from being a 2019 player. Ramirez has a strong build with good bat speed and an aggressive swing that stays on plane throughout the hitting zone. While Ramirez doesn’t have one standout, carrying tool, scouts highest on him believe in his hitting ability. Ramirez has performed well in games and hit well against quality pitching. While he will chase high fastballs at times, he generally manages his at-bats well with a good offensive approach. He’s strong for his age and has the power to take the ball over the fence to his pull side, with the potential for average power. A hard-nosed player, Ramirez is an average runner with an unorthodox running gait. Given how young Ramirez is, there are some scouts think he might get faster, but several others think he’s best suited in an outfield corner with an average arm. The Angels are the frontrunners to sign Ramirez once he becomes eligible, likely for a bonus around $1 million.