International Reviews: Detroit Tigers
See also: 2014 Tigers International Review
See also: 2013 Tigers International Review
See also: 2012 Tigers International Review
Top signing: C Gresuan Silverio, Dominican Republic, $300,000.
Total signings: 29.
The Tigers had one of the game’s smallest international bonus pools in 2015-16 at $2,056,200, so they spread their money around to several players for low six-figure bonuses and under. They had expected to field a team in the Dominican Summer League and the Venezuelan Summer League again this year, but the VSL shut down. The Tigers don’t have space at their Dominican facility to house two full teams, so they will field one DSL roster and two teams in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. The more advanced players from last year’s DSL team will move on to the GCL, where the Tigers will try to run their second GCL club like a second academy team. Most if not all of their signings from last year’s July 2 class will make their debut in the DSL.
The Tigers’ biggest bonus of 2015 went to 17-year-old Dominican catcher Gresuan Silverio, who got $300,000 on July 2 after training with Franklin Ferreras and playing in the Dominican Prospect League. At 6 feet, 175 pounds, Silverio projects to stick behind the plate, with solid catch-and-throw skills, soft hands and a strong arm. He’s a switch-hitter with gap power that should increase with physical maturity, with the Tigers impressed by his game performance at the plate.
At 5-foot-9, 160 pounds, 16-year-old Dominican outfielder Juan Ramirez isn’t that big, but he has a knack for putting the barrel to the baseball and a high level of overall game awareness. Signed for $185,000 in July 2 out of John Carmona’s program and another DPL player, Ramirez is a lefty with good hand-eye coordination who makes contact at a high clip. He has more physical projection than his size might suggest, with strong legs and projection in his upper half to grow into more power, though his offensive skill set will likely always be more about his pure hitting ability than extra-base thump. Ramirez is a tick below-average runner, so he figured to play an outfield corner, but since signing he has shown good instincts and reads off the bat to be able to start out in center field. Moving to a corner would put more stress on his power developing, but he has an above-average arm that would fit in right field.
Gustavo Figueroa, a 17-year-old signed out of Venezuela for $180,000 on July 3, has a athletic frame for a catcher at 6 feet, 170 pounds. He stands out for his defense, with good instincts behind the plate with his blocking and receiving abilities for his age along with a strong arm. His righthanded bat will have to catch up to his defense, profiling as a line-drive hitter with gap power.
The Tigers signed 17-year-old Venezuelan center fielder Darwin Alvarado for $170,000 on July 3. He’s a lefthanded hitter with good bat speed a solid frame (6-foot-1, 170 pounds) that he could fill out and be able to develop power, though he’s mostly a gap hitter right now and hit .158/.246/.158 in 57 at-bats in the Liga Paralela (the minor league version of the Venezuelan League). He’s an average runner with good instincts in the outfield.
Luis Laurencio is a 17-year-old Dominican third baseman with a strong, physical build (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) who stood out for his present power. Like a lot of heavy-framed third basemen his age signed out of Latin America, Laurencio stands out more for his raw power than his hitting ability and has a strong arm but will need to improve his footwork in the field. Laurencio trained with “Nube,” played in the DPL and signed for $135,000 on July 2.
Switch-hitting Dominican shortstop Melvin Ramos signed for $105,000 on July 2. At 17, Ramos is athletic with slightly above-average speed and a good arm, projecting to stick at the position. He’s a line-drive hitter who is 5-foot-11, 155 pounds and doesn’t project to have much power, though he impressed the Tigers with his approach from both sides of the plate.
Ildemaro Escalona is a righthanded-hitting shortstop out of Venezuela who also signed for $105,000 on July 3 and has a similar skill set to Ramos, though with a tick less speed and arm strength. He had a rough time in the Liga Paralela, where he went 0-for-38, but despite the early growing pains, the Tigers liked his bat and athleticism.
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Pedro Hurtado is a 17-year-old Venezuelan catcher who participated in MLB’s international showcase in the Dominican Republic last year in February then traveled to North Carolina for the league’s International Prospect Series in March. Despite his higher profile, the Tigers were able to sign him for $77,000 in July. Hurtado showed good power for a catcher from both sides of the plate with an average arm.