2019 International Prospects To Watch Version 2.0
After I wrote about some of the top international prospects in the 2019 class last week, a frequent question I heard was:
Why isn't (my favorite team) doing anything?
Well, the Braves can only do so much—they can't sign anyone for more than $10,000—and the Orioles are just starting to build an international program, but pretty much every other club is going to be competitive for prominent players this year.
Every team is operating under a hard cap with roughly equivalent bonus pool space. And after years of having several teams unable to sign players for more than $300,000, 2019 is the first year no team will be in that penalty box.
So not only is the 2019 market highly competitive, it's also a talented class. Most teams will sign between 25-60 players, with around 30 players likely to get $1 million and probably 300 or so total who will sign for at least $100,000.
Here's a look at 10 more of the top names to know for the 2019 class. We'll have more reports and videos of other prominent 2019 players (including some who will likely sign seven-figure deals) coming soon.
Reggie Preciado, SS, Panama
At the U-15 World Cup in Panama last year in August, Preciado was the leader of the Panamanian team that finished with a silver medal on its home turf. Preciado batted .393/.452/.500 and made the all-tournament team at shortstop, standing out for his hitting ability from the right side, game awareness and tall, projectable 6-foot-4 frame with power beginning to emerge. He kept it up in Panama's junior national league for players 17-and-under, ranking third in the league in OPS as a 15-year-old. He's the top prospect in Panama this year and is expected to sign with the Padres for more than $1 million. Preciado is represented by Cesar Suarez.
Jose Pastrano, SS, Venezuela
Pastrano is another Venezuelan player who has spent time working out in the Dominican Republic, where he trains with Banana. He has quick actions, good body control and an above-average arm at shortstop, where he projects to stick, along with a sound, compact swing from both sides of the plate. The Indians are expected to sign Pastrano.
Maximo Acosta, SS, Venezuela
The Rangers have been aggressive in Venezuela, signing shortstop Keyber Rodriguez in 2017 and catcher Jose Rodriguez last year. This year, they're expected to sign Acosta, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound shortstop with a good balance of tools and ability to apply them in games. His speed and arm are both plus, with a good internal clock at shortstop and a line-drive, contact-oriented approach from the right side. Acostal, who trains with Roberto Vahlis, is expected to sign with the Rangers.
Kevin Made, SS, Dominican Republic
One of the top players this year with Jaime Ramos, Made has a wiry, athletic frame with a high waist. He puts a surprising charge into the ball for a skinny kid, and scouts highest on him like his ability to hit in games, which he showed at an International Prospect League showcase in Colombia. He's expected to sign with the Cubs for a bonus that should surpass $1 million.
Dauris Lorenzo, SS, Dominican Republic
Lorenzo is a 16-year-old, switch-hitting shortstop who trains at the Otro Nivel academy. He has a smooth, compact swing from both sides of the plate, and scouts highest on Lorenzo liked him for his ability to hit well in games. His bonus is expected to top the $1.5 million mark. The Astros are expected to sign Lorenzo.
Jhon Diaz, OF, Dominican Republic
Diaz is smaller than the other top players in the class, but he's one of the most skilled game players for 2019. He's a lefty who consistently performs well in games with a quick, simple swing and a knack for barreling the ball against live pitching. He's a center fielder with good defensive instincts and one of the smartest baseball IQ players in the country. There was some talk that the Red Sox would be the favorites for Diaz, though more recently there's been buzz on the Yankees here. Diaz trains with German Rosario.
Luis Medina, OF, Venezuela
Alexi Qurioz has had several top players in his program in Venezuela recently, including Medina this year. Medina is a 6-foot-2, lefthanded outfielder who has hit well in games with big power projection. As an average to a tick better runner, he's not a burner but he has a lean, athletic build with a chance to stick in center field. Medina is expected to sign with the Brewers.
Rikelvin de Castro, SS, Dominican Republic
A lean, 6-foot shortstop, de Castro is a high-energy, hard-nosed player with a chance to develop into a plus defender, making challenging plays look easy. He's a righthanded hitter with a quick, loose stroke and gap power. Castro trains with Angel Perez and is expected with the Blue Jays, likely for north of $1 million.
Alexander Ramirez, OF, Dominican Republic
The Mets have a good track record with their big-ticket signings from recent international classes. Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez developed into two of the most promising young shortstops in the game, while Ronny Mauricio edged into the back of the Top 100 last month. This year, the Mets' top target appears to be Ramirez, who is around 6-foot-3 with a lot of space to fill out as a potential power/speed threat from the right side. Ramirez trains with Niche and is expected to sign a seven-figure deal.
Luis Gutierrez, LHP, Venezuela
Gutierrez is one of the top pitching prospects in the 2019 class, with an impressive blend of easy mechanics, stuff and feel for pitching. He's 5-foot-11 with smooth mechanics and a fastball that has grown steadily over the last year to reach 90 mph. He shows feel for his secondary pitches as well, including a tight-spinning curveball that he uses to miss bats. Gutierrez is represented by Cesar Suarez.