10 International Prospects To Watch For 2018
With most of the top international players for 2017 already signed, teams have been busy scouting the 2018 class. Not all of the top 2017 international prospects have signed yet, though. Dominican shortstop Ronny Rojas, the No. 11 international prospect, became eligible to sign when he turned 16 on 23. He is still expected to sign with the Yankees.
Outfielder Raimfer Salinas (the No. 10 prospect on the BA Top 50), catcher Antonio Cabello (No. 15) and outfielder Wilderd Patiño (No. 27)—all Venezuelan prospects who train with Francisco Ortiz—remain unsigned.
The Rangers still appear to be the favorites for Patiño, and while there’s more uncertainty with Salinas and Cabello, several sources believe they could go to the Yankees, who have traded up for additional bonus pool space.
The Yankees are also the favorites to sign Venezuelan shortstop/center fielder Osleivis Basabe, the No. 46 prospect, though there is talk he might wait until 2018 to sign.
One X-factor is that the Yankees and Rangers could be saving bonus pool space in case Shohei Ohtani gets posted after the season, in which case there could be more movement on those players closer to January once there's more clarity on Ohtani's situation.
Dominican outfielder Mauro Bonifacio (No. 34) is also still available since becoming eligible to sign on his 16th birthday on Aug. 31.
So while the 2017-18 international signing period remains open until June 15, 2018, some prominent 2017 players could potentially factor into the 2018 class.
These are 10 prospects to watch for the 2018 international signing period, which opens next year on July 2. All of the players below are 15.
Orelvis Martinez, ss, Dominican Republic Martinez is a strong, physical righthanded hitter who stands out for his offensive upside. He’s 6-foot-1, 190 pounds with a compact swing, good bat speed and power, and with how much more size he projects to add down the road, it’s likely he moves over to third base. His bonus is expected to push past $3 million, with the Blue Jays the favorites.
Noelvi Marte, ss, Dominican Republic Marte is one of the top offensive threats in the class. He has a good track record in games, with a promising blend of hitting ability, power and athleticism. The Mariners are showing strong interest in Marte, who is expected to command around $3 million.
Misael Urbina, of, Venezuela At 6 feet, 170 pounds, Urbina is an explosive athlete with good range in center field. He’s one of the fastest runners in the class. The Twins are linked to Urbina.
Francisco Alvarez, c, Venezuela For someone his age, Alvarez has a long track record of high-level offensive game performance. He has a strong, somewhat stocky build (5-foot-11, 185 pounds) and a short but powerful swing from the right side. The Mets are the frontrunners for Alvarez.
Marco Luciano, ss/of, Dominican Republic Luciano put on an impressive batting practice display in July while traveling with the Dominican Prospect League, and while there is some swing-and-miss to his game, he showed the biggest raw power of anyone at the event. The Giants are linked to Luciano, who is expected to go in the $2-3 million range.
Diego Cartaya, c, Venezuela After their spending spree in 2015, the Dodgers have been under the penalty for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 signing periods. Those handcuffs come off in 2018, and Cartaya looks like the Dodgers’ top target. At 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, Cartaya is a righthanded hitter with a strong arm and a high baseball IQ, not surprising for someone who has represented Venezuela in multiple international tournaments since he was 10.
Gabriel Rodriguez, ss, Venezuela Rodriguez is one of the most accomplished hitters in the class, performing at a high level in game situations, including most recently last month at the COPABE 15U Pan American Championships in Colombia where he hit .364/.407/.636. Rodriguez lacks speed but he’s a polished hitter with a high baseball IQ. The Indians look like the favorites for Rodriguez.
Jose Rodriguez, c, Venezuela The third Venezuelan catcher on here, Rodriguez is 6 feet, 165 pounds and stands out for his offensive potential from the left side of the plate, with his bat further along than his defense. The Rangers have shown the most interest in Rodriguez.
Jose de la Cruz, of, Dominican Republic De la Cruz is one of better athletes in the class. At 6 feet, 175 pounds, he has quick-twitch actions, excellent speed and makes hard contact from the right side of the plate. De la Cruz could push toward the $2 million neighborhood, with the Tigers showing the strongest interest.
Starlyn Castillo, rhp, Dominican Republic Castillo has a strong build (6 feet, 190 pounds) and power stuff, with a fastball that already reaches the mid-90s. While some teams shy away from paying big money for 16-year-old arms, Castillo has separated himself early as the top pitcher in the class and should easily push past the $1 million mark. Right now the Phillies are the favorites.