2023 International Reviews: Detroit Tigers

The Tigers’ international signing class draws heavily from Venezuela. More than half of their signings so far this year are Venezuelan players, with five of their top six bonuses going to prospects from Venezuela.

Top Of The Class

The Tigers signed Venezuelan catcher Enrique Jimenez for $1.25 million. He projects to stay at catcher as a high-energy, athletic catcher who is agile and mobile behind the plate. A compact 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, Jimenez is a good receiver for his age with an average arm that plays up because of his quick release and accuracy to help him control the running game. Jimenez stood out early on because of his defensive ability, but he has shown a solid bat for a 17-year-old catcher. He’s a switch-hitter with a short swing and gap power that’s starting to climb, especially from the left side.

Had Dominican outfielder Cristian Perez been born a few weeks later, he wouldn’t have been eligible to sign until 2024, so he will play nearly the entire season at 16 until his birthday on Aug. 14. Signed for $1.1 million, Perez is young but strong for his age at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds. His strength and bat speed help him drive the ball for impressive power in batting practice with the ability to generate loft. Perez can do damage on a fastball, but he has an aggressive approach and length to his righthanded swing, so some scouts thought he would have a power-over-hit profile. Perez is athletic, an above-average runner and some scouts liked his actions in the outfield with a fringe-average arm. Some scouts thought he could be a power center fielder, while others thought his body type would lead him to slow down and shift to a corner.

Outfielder Anibal Salas, 17, signed with the Tigers for $1 million. Salas had one of the better tool sets among Venezuelan players for this year. Salas is an athletic switch-hitter at 6 feet, 180 pounds with power/speed potential. He’s a plus runner with a fast bat from both sides of the plate and a strong upper half, enabling him to drive the ball with impact, especially from the left side. Salas is still more raw tools than skills, so he will have to show he can make enough contact in games to tap into that power potential. His tools stand out in center field as well with his speed and a plus-plus arm.

Names To Know

Maikol Orozco, SS, Venezuela: Orozco is an athletic mover signed for $900,000. He’s 17 with significant strength projection remaining in his 6-foot, 170-pound frame. He’s a righthanded hitter with an approach that helps him stay through the middle of the field from the right side, with gap power now but the fast bat speed and physical upside for more home run juice that should be coming. There’s a chance Orozco could end up outgrowing shortstop, but he has the athleticism and tools to develop there, with above-average speed and a strong arm.

Juan Hernandez, SS, Venezuela: Hernandez is a 17-year-old shortstop the Tigers signed for $350,000. He’s a high-contact lefthanded hitter with doubles power and a lot of game experience that shows up on both sides of the ball. At 6 feet, 160 pounds, Hernandez is an above-average runner whose hands and feet work well at shortstop, where he has a strong arm and the ability to throw from different angles.

Nelson Marin, C, Venezuela: Marin, who signed for $200,000, has the catch-and-throw skills to stay behind the plate and defend his position well with a solid-average arm. He’s 5-foot-11, 165 pounds at 17 with a line-drive swing from the right side and doubles power.

Abelardo Medrano, OF, Dominican Republic: A $185,000 signing, Medrano has a long, rangy frame with a ton of room to add good weight and strength to his 6-foot-2, 180-pound build. Medrano, 17, shows flashes of power now when he lets it go from the left side, with a chance for significantly more power to come once he fills out. He’s an average runner who projects as a corner outfielder with the arm strength that should fit in right field.

Brandy Caraballo, OF, Dominican Republic: Caraballo, 17, is an explosive 5-foot-9 center fielder the Tigers signed for $170,000. His quick-twitch actions show up in the batter’s box, where he has fast hands to snap the barrel through the zone with good bat speed from the right side. It’s a line-drive approach with a handsy swing and the bat speed that gives him a chance for more power to come later. Caraballo is a plus runner who should be able to stick in center field.

Johan Estrada, C, Venezuela: Estrada is a $158,000 signing who projects to stay behind the plate. He’s 5-foot-11, 170 pounds with good catch-and-throw skills for 17 and an average arm. Estrada’s defensive skills stand out the most, with a power-over-hit shape to his offensive game from the right side.

Sleeper Watch

One under-the-radar player who has started to generate more attention is Martin Tamara, a 19-year-old catcher the Tigers signed from Colombia for $25,000. Tamara has shown good feel for hitting in games from the right side, with the bat speed and strength in his swing that leads to gap power now and more juice likely coming. He has an athletic build (6 feet, 185 pounds) for a catcher with an average arm and a chance to stay behind the plate, though his athleticism could give him the flexibility to play other positions as well.

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