2023 International Reviews: Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays have built what should be a playoff contender for the next several years with a mix of draft picks, trade acquisitions, free agent signings and homegrown international talent. Two of the best hitters in their lineup were international signings, with first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. the No. 1 international prospect in his class in 2015, while catcher Alejandro Kirk was a lower money sign who has developed into one of the best young catchers in baseball. With Gabriel Moreno, a $25,000 signing from Venezuela in 2016 who developed into their No. 1 prospect, the Blue Jays had a surplus of talented young catchers, so they traded him and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to the D-backs in December for Daulton Varsho.
Top Of The Class
The Blue Jays signed Dominican outfielder Enmanuel Bonilla for $4.1 million, the fourth-highest bonus for any international prospect in 2023. Bonilla, 17, is 6-foot-2, 190 pounds and impressed scouts with his mix of hitting ability, power and athleticism. Bonilla has explosiveness to several areas of his game and it shows up at the plate with his bat speed and power. The scouts highest on Bonilla thought he had one of the better combinations of hitting ability, power and strike-zone judgment in the class, though others thought he was a good fastball hitter who would have to get better at recognizing spin. He has a strong build and should be a physical outfielder with a chance for 25-plus home runs. As Bonilla does fill out, some scouts expect him to slide over to right field, but others are more optimistic he can retain his speed to handle center field. He’s a plus runner and has a strong arm for his age, so he has the tools to develop in center field. He has been in Florida for spring training, though like nearly every other international signing this year, he’s expected to make his official pro debut in the Dominican Summer League.
Names To Know
David Guzman, OF, Venezuela: One of the best pure hitters in Venezuela this year, Guzman signed with the Blue Jays for $650,000. He’s a compact, 5-foot-9 lefty who tracks pitches well, makes good swing decisions and has a simple, fast swing with good bat control. It’s impressive feel for hitting with a line-drive stroke and gap power. His bat is his calling card, with below-average speed that limits him to a corner, though his high baseball IQ shows up in his defensive instincts and accurate throws.
Samuel Acuña, RHP, Venezuela: A $300,000 signing, Acuña isn’t that tall, but he has several projection indicators scouts look for between his athleticism, delivery and arm action. He’s an athletic mover on the mound with a loose, fast arm to produce a fastball that has ticked up to touch 92 mph at 17. He’s still adding feel for his breaking ball, with early signs of progress there after switching to a more traditional slider grip.
Sann Omosako, RHP, Brazil: Omosako is the third sibling in his family to sign with a major league club. Outfielder Gunn Omosako signed with the Mariners in 2018 and reached the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League before getting released last year. Kinn Omosako is an 18-year-old righthander who signed with the Dodgers in 2021 and pitched in the Dominican Summer League last year. Sann signed with the Blue Jays for $100,000 this year as a 6-foot-2, 175-pound righthander who is an athletic righthander with a fastball, curveball, slider and changeup in his repertoire. He’s been up to 90 mph with the physical projection for that velocity to climb once he packs on more weight.
Most of Toronto’s international bonus pool allotment went to Bonilla, but there are a few more under-the-radar signings with intriguing skill sets. Jarold Montealto is a shortstop from Nicaragua signed for $85,000 with a smaller, strong build at 5-foot-9, 170 pounds. He’s a high-energy, athletic defender with good actions and a knack for making the flashy play. Montealto is a natural righthanded hitter who started to also hit lefthanded within the last three years, and it’s advanced to the point where he can continue to develop as a switch-hitter.
Edward Valencia, 17, was born in Venezuela and was living in Colombia before returning to Venezuela for the last couple of years and signing with the Blue Jays for $10,000. He’s 6-foot-1, 150 pounds, an extremely thin build but with wide shoulders as a quick-twitch, athletic center fielder. It’s raw tools over skills, with a chance for those tools to continue getting better once he gets stronger. He whips the barrel through with good bat speed from the right side and his plus-plus speed fits well in center field. He has a strong arm for his age that should be plus once he fills out.
Righthander Cawrin Salcedo, a 19-year-old signed for $10,000, was born and raised in Montreal, but he moved to the Dominican Republic with extended family and went to work out for clubs there as a shortstop. After a few years doing that, Salcedo moved to the mound and caught the Blue Jays’ attention with his athleticism and high-spin fastball that has been up to 92 mph and could still have a few more ticks of velocity to come, along with some feel for a breaking ball.