2021-22 International Big Board
Below is our bonus board of the 2021-22 international signing class, sorting the prospects in the class based on their expected signing bonus.
Technically, the signing period start date hasn't moved yet from July 2, 2021.
Realistically, the signing period will probably begin on Jan. 15, 2022.
Last year Major League Baseball delayed the start of the current 2020-21 signing period from July 2, 2020 to Jan. 15, 2021, with the period open through Dec. 15, 2021. Based on what would otherwise be an overlap in the two signing periods and what MLB told clubs last year, the players who are in the upcoming "2021" class likely will have their signing period start on Jan. 15, 2022.
The players are lined up on the big board based only on their expected bonus amounts, rather than a traditional talent ranking. It's the same approach we took last year, one that I think is the most honest and fair thing we can do for our readers, the players and the clubs.
The top players in a class are typically committing to teams multiple years before they're officially eligible to sign, which means they're no longer being closely scouted by the other 29 teams. From age 14 to 16, players can change tremendously. We see players who grow a few inches taller, get stronger and having their tools jump multiple grades. Or, in some cases, they don't progress as projected.
With the pandemic, the challenges to scout these players are even greater. Major League Baseball banned all in-person scouting last year for six months. Restrictions are still in place on bringing 2021 players to a club academy. Many clubs—either for health or budget reasons—have limited their travel. The reality is that, in many cases, teams right now have less of a feel for even the players they're planning to sign compared to what they would in a normal year.
Our board, though, is the best guide available to know the big international prospects in the upcoming class, with reports on each player, where they're expected to sign and videos throughout from seeing these players over the past few years. Some Cuban free agents are not on the board yet because it's not clear yet which team will sign them, so we will update it as that changes and expand our board to include more players in the coming months.
Cristian VaqueroCuba OFVideoNotes:
Born: Sept. 13, 2004. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 180.
The Nationals paid the top bonus for a 16-year-old international prospect in the 2020-21 signing class, when they spent most of their bonus pool money on Dominican shortstop Armando Cruz. In the next signing period, it looks like they're going to invest most of their pool space into one player again, this time with Vaquero the headliner. Vaquero is a dynamic center fielder with plus speed, a strong arm and good defensive instincts for his age. At the plate he has a sound lefthanded swing and a chance to grow into plus power, with a lean, projectable frame for those already impressive tools to get better as he gets stronger. More recently, Vaquero has also started switch-hitting. He's obviously not as advanced from the right side yet, but he has shown enough that it could continue after signing. Vaquero trains with Javier Rodriguez.More Less
Roderick AriasDominican Republic SSNotes:
Born: Sept. 9, 2004. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 175.
The Yankees are expected to sign Arias, one of the best all-around players in the class with a promising mix of tools and skills across the board. He's a switch-hitter whose swing is quick, compact and adjustable, with the ability to recognize spin well for his age and good performances against live pitching. He makes hard contact for his age, with more power now from the right side, and a chance to grow into above-average power once he fills out his lean, athletic frame. He's also an above-average runner with the athleticism, hands and footwork to handle shortstop, along with his best tool, a plus-plus arm. Arias, who trains with Daniel Paulino and Luis Schecker, is expected to sign with the Yankees for a bonus that could be in the $4 million neighborhood.More Less
Ricardo CabreraVenezuela SSVideoNotes:
Born: Oct. 31, 2004. B-T: R-R. Ht. 6-1. Wt.: 184.
Cabrera stood out early in the scouting process, when as a 2021 prospect he was one of the top performers on the field playing against 2019 and 2020 players. While training with Dennis Suarez, Cabrera has continued to develop into one of the most complete players in the class, with the Reds expected to sign him. Cabrera has a quick, direct swing and good feel for the barrel with a knack for using the whole field. As he has gotten stronger, his power has started to emerge as well. He's also a good athlete with a chance to stick at shortstop with plus speed and a strong arm.More Less
Dyan JorgeCuba SSNotes:
Born: March 18, 2003. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 170.
Jorge was one of the top players in his age group in Cuba before he left the country to train in the Dominican Republic. He's eligible to sign now, but with teams having already spent most or all of their pool space for the current signing period, he's waiting until the 2021-22 signing period opens to sign, with the Rockies expected to pay him close to $3 million. Jorge has a slender, wiry build and is an excellent athlete with plus-plus speed. Scouts highest on Jorge thought he projects to stick at shortstop, where he has easy actions, a good internal clock and a plus arm. Jorge's hitting ability drew a split camp among scouts, but he performed well in Cuba and has generally shown good instincts for the game.More Less
Lazaro MontesCuba OF/1BVideoNotes:
Born: Oct. 22, 2004. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 210.
Montes trains in the Dominican Republic with Aldo Marrero, who also trained Yordan Alvarez when he left Cuba. Like Alvarez, Montes is a physically imposing slugger, still 16 but with plus-plus raw power and good bat speed. For a hitter with such a large frame, Montes has a relatively compact swing with good path and leverage that helps him translate that power in games, with the ability to hit home runs to all fields against live pitching. Defensively, he is limited to either a corner outfield spot and possibly first base as he fills out, but the upside is a middle-of-the-lineup slugger. The Mariners are expected to land Montes.More Less
Diego BenitezVenezuela SSNotes:
Born: Nov. 19, 2004.B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 183.
After multiple years of penalties from Major League Baseball for their international signing violations, the Braves are entering their first signing period free from those restrictions. Their top target is Benitez, one of the top infielders in Venezuela. He has a large, athletic build with fluid actions both in the box and in the field. His hitting ability stands out the most, with excellent bat speed and a smooth swing that stays through the hitting zone for a long time. He has gap power now with a chance to grow into average or better power as he gets stronger. Benitez is a sound defender, though his range and future size could lead him to third base. He trains with Emiro Barboza.More Less
William Bergolla Jr.Venezuela SSNotes:
Born: Oct. 20, 2004. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 155.
William Bergolla was a Reds Top 30 prospect for five years from 2002-2006 and played in 17 big league games for Cincinnati in 2005. The former middle infielder's son, William Bergolla Jr., is now one of the top prospects in Venezuela for the next international signing class. Bergolla Jr. has a sound swing and makes frequent contact in games with a line-drive approach and gap power. He's an instinctive player who projects to stick in the middle infield, with plus speed and an arm that earns 50 to 55 grades on the 20-80 scale. He trains with Yasser Mendez and is expected to sign with the Phillies.More Less
Ryan ReckleyBahamas SSNotes:
Born: Sept. 6, 2004. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 170.
The Bahamas continues to grow as an emerging source of talent for major league clubs, with Marlins shortstop Jazz Chisholm and D-backs outfielder Kristian Robinson both currently ranked among the game's Top 100 prospects. The top player in the 2021-22 class from the Bahamas is Reckley, who trains in the Max D Sports Company with Greg Burrows and is expected to sign with the Giants for more than $2 million. Reckley has plus or better speed with quick, athletic actions at shortstop. If everything clicks, he could be a switch-hitting shortstop who hits at the top of a lineup, with a quick stroke that's more efficient from the right side and geared for line drives with gap power.More Less
Javier OsorioVenezuela SSVideoNotes:
Born: March 29, 2005. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 172.
Osorio was an early standout in the scouting process as one of the most advanced players in the 2021 class. He has high-end bat speed for his age, with quick wrists and an aggressive swing that he snaps through the zone quickly. That bat speed helps him drive the ball with impact and gives him a chance to develop into a power-hitting shortstop as he fills out. Osorio's best tools are on the offensive side, but he has the actions, athleticism and arm strength that could allow him to stay at shortstop. He trains at the Dream Team Academy with Wilfredo Polidor and is expected to sign with the Tigers.More Less
Luis MezaVenezuela CVideoNotes:
Born: Sept. 11, 2004. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 185.
Venezuela consistently is home to top international catchers, with Diego Cartaya (Dodgers), Francisco Alvarez (Mets) and Ronnier Quintero (Cubs) in the most recent signing classes. Meza fits into that tier of players as a catcher who projects to stick behind the plate and is one of the better hitters in Venezuela. He has a loose, easy swing with a knack for being on time and strong game performance. He's a high-contact hitter who uses the whole field, with room on his broad-shouldered frame to fill out and drive the ball with more impact as he gets stronger. Meza's catch-and-throw skills are also advanced for his age. The Blue Jays are expected to sign Meza, who trains with Kander Depablos and Reynaldo Gonzalez.More Less
Tony Blanco Jr.Dominican Republic OFNotes:
Born: May 14, 2005. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 210.
Tony Blanco was a Baseball America Top 100 prospect two years in a row and played briefly for the Nationals in 2005 before spending several years as a slugger in Japan, including three seasons with 30-plus homers. His son, Tony Blanco Jr, is an even more physically imposing power threat. He's big, strong has high-end bat speed and plus-plus raw power. Some scouts had reservations about his pure hitting ability, but others saw him perform well against live pitching and see him as a potential middle-of-the-order hitter. Blanco Jr. has an average arm, but his size limits his defensive value, with a chance he can move around well enough for a corner outfield spot but some first base risk as he gets bigger. Blanco Jr. trains with Ivan Noboa and is expected to sign with the Rays.More Less
Jonathan MejiaDominican Republic SSVideoNotes:
Born: April 12, 2005. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 185.
Mejia attracted a lot of attention from scouts at Major League Baseball's Trainer Partnership Program showcase in November 2019, where he put on an impressive display in the batter's box. He's a switch-hitter with good bat speed from both sides of the plate, enabling him to drive the ball for damage when he connects. He has a sound swing and generally plays under control in games to make consistent contact. Mejia has a plus arm, and while some he might end up at third base, his improved footwork has helped on the defensive side. The Cardinals are expected to sign Mejia, who trains with Nercy Brito.More Less
Simon JuanDominican Republic OFNotes:
Born: July 13, 2005. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 165.
Training with former major league shortstop Rafael Furcal, Juan is an athletic center fielder with speed and power. He's on the younger end of the class, but he's already a plus or better runner with an explosive first step that should fit well in center field. He has good bat speed and already drives the ball with impact during batting practice, with a projectable frame that points to more power coming. He doesn't have the cleanest swing, so there is some risk on his pure hitting ability, but if everything clicks he has a chance to be a power/speed threat in the middle of the diamond. The Mets are expected to sign Juan for close to $2 million.More Less
Nelson RadaVenezuela OFVideoNotes:
Born: Aug. 24, 2005. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 168.
If Rada had been born eight days later, he would be in the 2022-23 class instead, so he is one of the younger player in the upcoming 2021-22 class. Rada stood out playing for Venezuela at the U-15 World Cup Americas Qualifier in Sept. 2019 in Mexico. He was 5-foot-9 early on, but he's the son of a former professional basketball player in Venezuela and has grown a few inches leading up to his signing date. He's an instinctive player, especially in center field where he gets good reads off the bat with a quick first step and at least solid-average speed. Rada has a fairly short stroke from the left side with a good eye for the strike zone and mostly gap power that has trended up as he's gotten stronger. He trains with Felix Olivo, who also had Angels shortstop Arol Vera, and the Angels are expected to sign Rada as well.More Less
Yasser MercedesDominican Republic OFVideoNotes:
Born: Nov. 16, 2004. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 180.
Mercedes, who was born in Puerto Rico and has grown up in the Dominican Republic, is one of the best power/speed threats in the class. He's an excellent athlete with a lean, well-proportioned build and flashes of above-average raw power that could tick up as he gets stronger. Mercedes has shown some swing-and-miss risk, but he has also hit big home runs in games with a chance to be a power-hitting center fielder. The Twins are expected to sign Mercedes, who trains with Hector Evertz.More Less
Jarlin SusanaDominican Republic RHPVideoNotes:
Born: March 23, 2004. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 195.
Susana is old enough to be eligible to sign right now, but he instead looks like he's going to wait until the 2021-22 signing period starts to sign with the Padres, with a bonus that could end up being the biggest in the class for a pitcher. Susana stood out early on when he threw 85-87 mph at 14 at a showcase during the winter meetings in Las Vegas in December 2018. At one point, he looked like he would sign with the Cardinals during the 2020-21 signing period, but that never materialized. With Major League Baseball's ban on scouting players in person during the pandemic ended in September 2020, Susana emerged showing electric stuff for a 16-year-old, with a fastball that touched 96 mph along with a sharp breaking ball. He trains with Ysbel Medina.More Less
Braylin TaveraDominican Republic OFVideoNotes:
Born: Feb. 19, 2005. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 175.
With the Orioles joining the rest of Major League Baseball in competing for top players from Latin America, their top expected signing in the upcoming class is expected to be Tavera, likely for a bonus in the $1.5 to $2 million range. Tavera is a center fielder who ran the 60-yard dash in 6.47 seconds at a Dominican Prospect League showcase in October 2019, and while he might slow down some as he fills out, he should be able to stay in center. He has a mix of average-ish tools across the rest of his skill set. He trains at the Zorrilla Baseball Academy.More Less
Martin GonzalesDominican Republic SSVideoNotes:
Born: Sept. 28, 2004. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 160.
Gonzales trains with Jaime Ramos, whose program for the 2020-21 class produced Hans Montero, a Dominican shortstop who signed with the Yankees for $1.6 million. Gonzales is a similar player and is expected to sign for similar money with the Mariners. He's not a speedster but he is quick and athletic, with the actions and attributes to remain at shortstop. Gonzales has a short, level swing plane through the zone, which should lead to a high contact rate. He has mostly been a line-drive hitter with gap power, though he is starting to drive the ball with more impact as he's gained strength over the past year.More Less
Johan BarriosVenezuela SSNotes:
Born: Jan. 8, 2005. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 170.
The Brewers have been aggressive in signing top talent from Venezuela in their recent signing classes, including their 2020-21 group with shortstops Jackson Bryan Chourio, Gregory Barrios and Daniel Guilarte. That trend that should continue in the next class with Barrios (no relation Gregory Barrios), who trains with Carlos Yanez. Barrios has a long, projectable frame with a lot of space to fill out. He's quick, athletic and has good body control with a plus arm, giving him a chance to stay at shortstop if he stays lean and agile enough, though depending on his physical development he could outgrow the position and end up at third base. Scouts highest on Barrios liked his hitting ability as well, with a lot more power that should come once he fills out.More Less
Samuel GilVenezuela SSNotes:
Born: Nov. 1, 2004. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-9. Wt.: 154.
Gil drew a lot of attention from scouts, more so for his in-game skills than his raw tools. He's an instinctive, high baseball IQ player who puts together consistent quality at-bats with an easy swing, good contact skills and an all-fields approach to get on base frequently. Gil isn't a huge power threat, but he puts a surprising charge into the ball for his smaller, slender size. His game savvy also shows up in the field, where he has a good internal clock, plays under control and has a strong arm. The Tigers are expected to sign Gil, who trains with Francisco Ortiz.More Less