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2021-22 International Bonus Board

INTERNATIONAL BONUS BOARDF

By Ben Badler

Below is Baseball America's international prospect bonus board, sorting the players in the 2021-22 signing class based on the top 50 expected bonuses. That means the No. 10 player on this list is in line to sign for the 10th highest bonus this year, not that he's the No. 10 ranked player in this class.

The signing period opens on Jan. 15, 2022, pushed back from the original July 2, 2021 date. The reality, of course, is that many of these players have had a signing commitment going back two or three years. Once a player commits to a team, he generally is no longer scouted much in a competitive environment by the other 29 clubs, since the player already has a signing commitment.

If you've read BA for years, you know that's nothing new, even if Major League Baseball doesn't publicly acknowledge this reality. I wrote a long story almost eight years ago about what was happening. In the last few years, the speed of the signing process accelerated even faster, which I wrote about again before the 2019 signing period.

So unlike amateur players in the United States who are scouted all the way up to draft day, there are a lot of players who will sign on Jan. 15 where the latest substantive reports teams have on them are from 2019. Players that age can change dramatically over the course of a few months let alone multiple years, growing taller, improving their tools by two to three full grades and changing their skill sets in the process.

Given the reality of what's happening in Latin America, that's why we have shifted over the last couple of years from a straight talent ranking to a bonus board pre-signing. I think that's the most honest and fair approach to treat these players (most of whom are still 16 and 17), all of the people involved in scouting, developing and training the players, and to be straightforward with our readers. Our board is the best guide available to know the big international prospects in this international class, with reports on each player, where they're signing and videos from seeing these players over the past few years.

Any player in the 2021-22 class who is expected to wait for the following year (the 2022-23 period) to sign isn't on this board either, since they won't be signing during this upcoming period. That has become a more common path to sign for prominent Cuban players, since by the time they leave Cuba and become available to sign, teams have already committed most if not all of their bonus pool money for the upcoming signing period.

50 Matches
See Full List Expand Collapse All Updated on: 1/6/2022
  1. 1
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    Cristian Vaquero

    Cuba OF
    Video
    Notes:

    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. 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. While teams primarily saw Vaquero as a lefthanded hitter, he is now a switch-hitter. He's obviously not as advanced from the right side yet, but he has shown enough that it could continue after signing.

    Team: Nationals

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    Roderick Arias

    Dominican Republic SS
    Notes:

    Born: Sept. 9, 2004. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 175.

    Arias is 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 has good performances against live pitching. He makes hard contact for his age, with more power now from the right side, and has 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. His bonus could be in the $4 million neighborhood.

    Team: Yankees

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  3. 3
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    Ricardo Cabrera

    Venezuela SS
    Video
    Notes:

    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. Cabrera has continued to develop into one of the most complete players in the class, with 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.

    Team: Reds

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  4. 4
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    Dyan Jorge

    Cuba SS
    Notes:

    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 was eligible to sign in the previous signing period, but since teams had already spent most or all of their pool space by the time he became available, he's waiting until the 2021-22 signing period opens to sign for 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.

    Team: Rockies

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  5. 5
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    Notes:

    Born: Sept. 17, 1998. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 220.

    A 23-year-old Cuban outfielder, Colas was eligible to sign during the previous signing period after he arrived in the Dominican Republic. With teams mostly tapped out of bonus pool money by that time, he's going to wait to sign when the 2021-22 period opens on Jan. 15 and the bonus pools reset. Colas has some experience on the mound as well, but his main draw is his big raw power from the left side. He showed that power with home runs in live batting practice sessions and simulated games working out for clubs in the Dominican Republic. Colas has improved his physical conditioning since he left Cuba, but his body type, range and athleticism will likely limit him to either left field or first base, with what he does in the batter's box driving his value.

    Team: White Sox

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  6. 6
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    Lazaro Montes

    Cuba OF/1B
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    Notes:

    Born: Oct. 22, 2004. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 210.

    Like fellow Cuban Yordan Alvarez, Montes is a physically imposing slugger, still 17 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 or possibly first base as he fills out, but the upside is a middle-of-the-lineup slugger.

    Team: Mariners

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  7. 7
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    Diego Benitez

    Venezuela SS
    Notes:

    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. Benitez, one of the top infielders in Venezuela, 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.

    Team: Braves

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  8. 8
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    William Bergolla Jr.

    Venezuela SS
    Notes:

    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.

    Team: Phillies

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  9. 9
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    Ryan Reckley

    Bahamas SS
    Notes:

    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 leading the way at the big league level, and players like D-backs outfielder Kristian Robinson and Marlins shortstop Ian Lewis coming up at the lower levels of the minors. The top player in this class from the Bahamas is Reckley, who is slated to sign 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.

    Team: Giants

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  10. 10
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    Javier Osorio

    Venezuela SS
    Video
    Notes:

    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.

    Team: Tigers

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  11. 11
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    Luis Meza

    Venezuela C
    Video
    Notes:

    Born: Sept. 11, 2004. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 185.

    Venezuela consistently is home to top international catchers. Diego Cartaya (Dodgers), Francisco Alvarez (Mets), Gabriel Moreno (Blue Jays) and Keibert Ruiz (Nationals) are all Venezuelan catchers who rank as the No. 1 prospects in their organizations. Meza isn't there yet, but like Cartaya and Alvarez were at the same age, Meza is one of the premier catchers this year, projecting to stick behind the plate as 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.

    Team: Blue Jays

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  12. 12
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    Jonathan Mejia

    Dominican Republic SS
    Video
    Notes:

    Born: April 12, 2005. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 185.

    Mejia attracted a lot of attention from scouts for his ability at the plate. He's a switch-hitter with good bat speed from both sides, 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 feel he might end up at third base, his improved footwork has helped on the defensive side.

    Team: Cardinals

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  13. 13
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    Anthony Gutierrez

    Venezuela OF
    Video
    Notes:

    Born: Nov. 24, 2004. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 185.

    While it looked like Gutierrez might wait another year to sign with the Nationals in their 2022-23 bonus pool, the latest buzz around the industry has him connected to Texas for this year. Gutierrez has a promising mix of size, athleticism and instincts, with broad shoulders, long limbs and plenty of physical upside remaining. He drives the ball with impact already as one of the better power bats in the class, with likely more coming as he gets stronger. Gutierrez has the athleticism, easy outfield actions and advanced defensive instincts for his age that could allow him to play center field early on, but given how big he projects to be, his future is more likely in right field.

    Team: Rangers

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  14. 14
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    Simon Juan

    Dominican Republic OF
    Notes:

    Born: July 13, 2005. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 165.

    Juan, who is expected to sign for close to $2 million, 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.

    Team: Mets

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  15. 15
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    Nelson Rada

    Venezuela OF
    Video
    Notes:

    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 next year's class instead, so he's one of the youngest players who will sign this year. Rada stood out playing for Venezuela at the U-15 World Cup Americas Qualifier in September 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.

    Team: Angels

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  16. 16
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    Yasser Mercedes

    Dominican Republic OF
    Video
    Notes:

    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.

    Team: Twins

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  17. 17
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    Jarlin Susana

    Dominican Republic RHP
    Video
    Notes:

    Born: March 23, 2004. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 195.

    Susana is old enough where he was eligible to sign last year, but instead he's going to sign this year for what looks like it will be the highest bonus for a pitcher in the 2021-22 signing period. 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 ending 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.

    Team: Padres

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  18. 18
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    Braylin Tavera

    Dominican Republic OF
    Video
    Notes:

    Born: Feb. 19, 2005. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 175.

    The Orioles have joined the rest of Major League Baseball in competing for top players from Latin America, with Tavera expected to sign 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, 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.

    Team: Orioles

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  19. 19
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    Martin Gonzales

    Dominican Republic SS
    Video
    Notes:

    Born: Sept. 28, 2004. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 160.

    The Yankees signed Dominican shortstop Hans Montero last year for $1.6 million. Gonzalez trained in the same program as Montero and the two have similarities, both in skill set and they're expected bonus amounts. Gonzales is 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 last couple of years.

    Team: Mariners

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  20. 20
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    Johan Barrios

    Venezuela SS
    Notes:

    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 last year's group with shortstops Jackson Bryan Chourio, Gregory Barrios and Daniel Guilarte. Johan Barrios (no relation to Gregory) 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.

    Team: Brewers

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  21. 21
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    Samuel Gil

    Venezuela SS
    Notes:

    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.

    Team: Tigers

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  22. 22
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    Adan Sanchez

    Panama C/3B
    Notes:

    Born: May 24, 2005. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 200.

    Sanchez became famous in Panama early. He made the all-tournament team at the U-12 World Cup in Taiwan in 2017, then the next year he played for Panama at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. He hit a home run there with current Cubs manager David Ross on the ESPN broadcast. He's an instinctive player who has an advanced offensive approach for his age, which he showed by hitting well against older competition while playing in Panama's youth national league at 14 in 2020. He makes consistent hard contact to all fields with home run power to his pull side now, with a chance to develop into a strong, physical hitter with more power as he fills out. Sanchez has the attributes to catch, with a strong arm and a high baseball IQ. He should be able to play there long term, but he has also spent time at third base, where his hands and feet work well.

    Team: Cubs

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  23. 23
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    Jhonny Severino

    Dominican Republic SS
    Video
    Notes:

    Born: Nov. 8, 2004. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 175.

    Severino is an offensive-oriented infielder with good bat speed from both sides of the plate. He's a more advanced hitter from the right side and makes hard contact when he connects, with the combination of bat speed and physical upside to potentially grow into above-average power. He has solid hitting instincts for his age and has shown the ability to work his way into favorable counts. Severino is more comfortable in the batter's box than he is in the infield, but he has made progress on the defensive side and has the arm strength that would fit at third base.

    Team: Brewers

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    Michael Arroyo

    Colombia SS
    Notes:

    Born: Nov. 3, 2004. B-T: R-R. Ht.:5-10. Wt.: 165.

    Arroyo will likely be the top paid player in the class out of Colombia. He has hit well in games, both at home in Colombia and traveling abroad for different events, including in the United States. His fast hands allow him to accelerate the barrel into the hitting zone quickly, producing a high contact rate against live pitching. He has a good sense of the strike zone for his age and uses the whole field, with a likely hit-over-power profile and a chance to grow into average pop in the future. Arroyo is athletic but his defense may be stretched thin at shortstop, so some scouts think he could move to second base or possibly third base.

    Team: Mariners

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    Yendry Rojas

    Cuba INF/OF
    Video
    Notes:

    Born: Jan. 27, 2005. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 179.

    Rojas is one of the better pure hitters in the class. He has a quiet, compact swing that's quick and balanced from the left side with an innate ability to manipulate the barrel. Rojas has performed well in games, tracking and recognizing pitches well with the patience to take walks. He can drive the ball for extra-base damage to all fields in games, with a chance for future above-average power. An average runner underway, Rojas is a bat-first prospect who has spent time in both the infield and the outfield. Some scouts think he could handle third or second base, while others think he fits better in an outfield corner.

    Team: Padres

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