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2023 International Reviews: Boston Red Sox

The top Red Sox signing this year is from the Dominican Republic, but half of their class comes from Venezuela, a country where the Red Sox have heavily scouted and signed players from in recent years.

While most teams have already spent either their entire bonus pool or close to it, the Red Sox still have around $1 million left in their allotment. That means there should still be more Red Sox signings on the way before the signing period closes this year on Dec. 15, whether it’s for one player who pops up later in the process or several players they could divide their money to sign.

Top Of The Class

The big signing this year for the Red Sox is Yoeilin Cespedes, a Dominican shortstop who got $1.4 million. Cespedes himself isn’t big—he’s 5-foot-9, 180 pounds—but he has outstanding contact skills and surprising righthanded juice for his size. Some scouts considered Cespedes to be one of the best pure hitters available this year, with excellent hand-eye coordination and bat control for a 17-year-old. It’s a fast bat with the ability to recognize spin and maintain an all-fields approach, leading to strong performance in games. Cespedes isn’t a free-swinger, but he has an aggressive mindset and will expand the strike zone, though he still has the ability to square up balls in the zone or off the plate. Cespedes will flash solid-average raw power and could have more as he fills out what should be a bulkier frame, with power to pull balls over the fence now in games. Cespedes is an offensive-minded infielder with average speed and a solid-average arm that would fit anywhere in the infield. His defensive progress has been encouraging, with improved hands and good body control that give him an opportunity to continue developing at shortstop at least in the lower levels, though a lot of scouts project him as a second or third baseman long term.

Names To Know

Franklin Arias, SS, Venezuela: Arias separated himself as one of the best defensive shortstops in Venezuela this year when the Red Sox signed him for $525,000. He’s 5-foot-11, 170 pounds at 17 with the components to develop into a plus fielder with his mix of athleticism, skills and instincts at the position. He has secure hands, easy arm strength and a good internal clock, reading hops well already with the ability to make all the routine plays and a knack for making the more challenging ones as well. Arias is a high baseball IQ player with good rhythm at the plate in his compact righthanded swing, showing occasional pull power but typically showing more doubles pop with an all-fields approach.

Yoiber Ruiz, SS, Venezuela: At 5-foot-7, 170 pounds, Ruiz won’t immediately pop in a workout setting, but he has good instincts and bat speed for 17. Signed for $500,000, Ruiz has been slowed after getting a hamate bone removed, but when he’s been on the field he has shown aptitude at the plate from the right side with occasional sneaky pop for his size thanks to his bat speed, though at his size he probably won’t be a big power threat. He trained as a shortstop but probably moves over to second base soon.

Kleyver Salazar, C, Venezuela: Catcher Johnfrank Salazar signed with the Red Sox in 2019 and hit .327/.434/.446 in 32 games in the Rookie-level Florida Complex League last year before getting a promotion to Low-A Salem. Kleyver Salazar, his 17-year-old brother, got $175,000 and at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds is more physical than his brother was at the same age. Salazar is a righthanded hitter who has shown good raw power for a catcher his age. He’s still developing as a receiver but has a strong arm.

Jesus Garcia, RHP, Venezuela: Garcia is 6-foot-1, 190 pounds at 17, pitching off a low-90s fastball with enough projection to where he has a chance to get into the mid 90s. He has shown some feel for a slider as well with deception that helps his stuff play up. He signed for $130,000.

Luis Arredondo, SS/3B, Venezuela: Arredondo is 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, a 17-year-old who trained as a shortstop before signing for $125,000, but should play third base in pro ball. His offensive game is the draw, with good game performance as a righthanded batter, showing feel for hitting and above-average raw power that should climb even higher once he fills out his big frame.

Sleeper Watch

With righthander Brayan Bello and shortstop/center fielder Ceddanne Rafaela, the Red Sox have a pair of lower-dollar international signings who have been recent Top 100 prospects. One player they signed this year outside of the typical hotbed countries for international talent is Stijn Van Der Schaaf, a 19-year-old righthander from the Netherlands who got $50,000. Van der Schaff pitched last year for HCAW in Honkbal Hoofdklasse, registering a 3.29 ERA in 11 relief appearances with 13 strikeouts and nine walks (one intentional) over 9.2 innings. He also pitched in three games for the Netherlands in the U-18 World Cup last year in Bradenton, Fla, allowing two runs in 5.1 innings with five strikeouts and four walks. He’s a deeper projection arm at 6-foot-4, 185 pounds, with a lot more room to fill out and add to a fastball that has started to touch the low 90s.

Masataka Yoshida (Photo By Billie Weiss Boston Red Sox Getty Images)

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