2019-20 MLB International Reviews: Detroit Tigers
It was a great year for players the Tigers signed from Latin America. It's just that their success mostly came with other organizations. Eugenio Suarez, a 2008 Tigers signing out of Venezuela, ranked second in baseball with 49 home runs. Willy Adames, 2012 Tigers signing from the Dominican Republic, posted a 4.2 WAR season (per Baseball Reference) with the Rays, while teammate Avisail Garcia (a 2007 signing from Venezuela) had a 2 WAR year.
Most of Detroit's 2019-20 international bonus pool money went to three players. The Tigers' top bonus went to 16-year-old Cuban outfielder Roberto Campos, who signed for $2.85 million, the sixth-highest bonus of any player this year and the most for a 2019 Cuban signing. After leaving Cuba, Campos went to the Dominican Republic and trained with his brother Raul (a 2018 Marlins signing) in San Pedro de Macoris near the Tigers academy, so the Tigers saw a lot of him in the evaluation process. He's 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, adding size and strength over the past 18 months. Plus power is his calling card, with the strength and bat speed to drive the ball out to any part of the park in BP with deep blasts to the middle of the field. There are some strikeouts that come with Campos' power, but he's not just an all-or-nothing swinger. He has a good eye at the plate, recognizing breaking pitches and staying disciplined in the strike zone for his age. That approach and knack for lifting the ball should help his power translate in games. Campos initially worked out as an infielder, but he transitioned to the outfield before signing. He's a corner outfielder who is still learning the position, but his speed improved to become an average runner underway, though he may slow down given his body type. A lot of Cuban signings have been making their debuts in the Dominican Summer League recently, and that might be where Campos gets his start in 2020.
Detroit's top Venezuelan signing this year was Manuel Sequera, a 17-year-old shortstop from Venezuela who trained with Jose Montero. He has a lot of strength projection remaining in his frame at 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, with a mature offensive approach for his age. He shows gap power now but should be able to develop at least average or better raw power in the future given his physical upside. Sequera is a below-average runner and some scouts weren't sure about whether he would stick at the position, but he has made progress defensively and has a chance to remain there. He has solid hands and his best tool in the field is a plus arm.
Abelaldo Lopez, a 17-year-old outfielder from the Dominican Republic who trained at the Quality Baseball Academy, signed with the Tigers for $700,000. He's 6-foot-2, 170 pounds and has a chance to develop into a power-hitting corner outfielder. It's near-average raw power right now with the physical projection in his lanky frame to develop that pop into a plus tool, with a power-over-hit profile. He's a below-average runner with at least an average arm that also should tick up to above-average once he fills out.
The Tigers spent $175,000 to sign 16-year-old Dominican shortstop Raudy de los Santos. He has a smaller, wiry frame (5-foot-11, 155 pounds) with a good swing path on a short stroke from the right side. For a skinny kid, he has some sneaky power for his size, but his swing and ability to hit in games stands out more in his offensive profile. He projects to stick at shortstop, where his hands and feet work well and he has an above-average arm.
The Tigers also signed 17-year-old catcher Samuel Rojas from the Kander de Pablos program in Venezuela. He's a strong-bodied 5-foot-10, 190 pounds with a durable build and a high-energy mentality behind the plate. His game is built around his physical strength, with power his best offensive tool and an average arm that could move up in the next couple years.