2021-22 International Reviews: Washington Nationals
Last year, the Nationals poured nearly all of their international bonus pool space into signing Armando Cruz, a flashy defensive shortstop from the Dominican Republic.
This year when the signing period opened on Jan. 15, the Nationals again pushed nearly all of their chips in for one player, landing a switch-hitting outfielder with a more dynamic skill set.
Top Of The Class
Cuban center fielder Cristhian Vaquero was a young player on the rise in the Cuban junior leagues before he left the country to sign with a major league club. When the 2021-22 international signing period opened on Jan. 15, the Nationals signed Vaquero for $4.925 million, the highest bonus of any player in his international class. Vaquero has a sleek, athletic frame and is an explosive player with a quick first step in center field, with long, gliding strides to cover plenty of ground with well above-average speed. With a plus arm and the ability to track the ball well off the bat, Vaquero has the potential to develop into a plus defender. At the plate, Vaquero is an aggressive hitter who hunts fastballs, and while some scouts were split on Vaquero's pure hitting ability, he has the strength projection to grow into above-average power. While a lot of teams saw Vaquero early on while he was strictly hitting lefthanded, he became a switch-hitter before signing and will continue that with the Nationals.
Names To Know
Jorgelys Mota, SS, Dominican Republic: Mota is a lean, 6-foot-3 shortstop with athletic actions in the field, plus speed and a strong arm. At the plate, Mota has a quick bat and big power potential for a shortstop. His offensive approach and hitting will take more time to develop, but the raw tools and athleticism stick out.
Jeremy Bautista, C, Dominican Republic: Bautista has solid catch-and-throw skills that should allow him to stay behind the plate with a strong arm and a solid swing from the right side of the plate.
After Vaquero and Mota, the Nationals filled out their class with a lot of players for $10,000 and under, since players signed for up to $10,000 are exempt from the bonus pools. One sleeper to follow is Misael Mojica out of the Dominican Republic. Mojica projects to play somewhere in the middle infield as an instinctive player with a nice swing and feel for hitting from the left side of the plate, along with above-average speed.