AL West 2018 International Signing Previews
With the 2018-19 international signing period opening on July 2, here are Baseball America's forecasts of every American League West club's expected signings.
The Astros enter their second year in the penalty box, so they won’t be able to sign anyone for more than $300,000. One pitcher linked to the Astros is Venezuelan righthander Johangel Ramirez, who has been able to get swings and misses with a mid- to upper-80s fastball and feel to spin a low-70s curveball. Cuban outfielder Frank Perez, who hit .374/.528/.549 in 129 plate appearances in Cuba’s 15U national league in 2016, is another player expected to sign with the Astros. So are Venezeulan catcher Miguel Palma and Dominican outfielder Tomas Ramirez.
Los Angeles Angels
The two most high-profile players linked to the Angels are shortstop Jose Bonilla and outfielder Alexander Ramirez, both from the Dominican Republic. Bonilla likely moves off the position, but scouts highest on him like his offensive potential from the right side of the plate. Ramirez is likely a corner outfielder with strength in his swing and scouts who liked him saw him hit well in games. He will be eligible to sign once he turns 16 on Aug. 29, making him one of the youngest players in the 2018 class. Three Venezuelan players—outfielder Darwin Moreno, as well as righthanders Daniel Rojas and Gabriel Hernandez—are also connected to the Angels.
The Athletics will be able to spend freely again in 2019, but for this year, they will again be limited to signings of no more than $300,000. One player they are linked to who has been trending in the right direction is Luis Carrasco, a 6-foot righthander from Venezuela. Carrasco pitched at the MLB international showcase in February in the Dominican Republic, where he pitched at 87-90 mph and showed feel to spin a mid-70s curveball.
Last year, the Mariners signed Julio Rodriguez, one of the top outfielders in the class from the Dominican Republic. This year, the Mariners have targeted one of the top shortstops in the country, Noelvi Marte. While Marte might ultimately change positions, he’s an athletic infielder with big power and one of the best players available. They are also connected to several Venezuelan players, including shortstop Asdrubal Bueno, lefthanded outfielder Gabriel Moncada and righthander David Morillo.
Franklin Torres Continues Adding Versatility
Torres has started playing catcher for high Class A Inland Empire, increasing his already impressive defensive value.
While the Rangers spent $1 million last year to sign Venezuelan shortstop Keyber Rodriguez, they saved their biggest acquisition of the 2017-18 period for the end, signing Cuban outfielder Julio Pablo Martinez for $2.8 million. When the 2018-19 signing period opens on July 2, their top signing is expected to be Jose Rodriguez, an offensive-minded catcher from Venezuela. Luisangel Acuña, a 5-foot-7 shortstop and the younger brother of Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña, is another player linked to the Rangers. So are catcher Johiner Aruinzones and righthander Jean Zambrano, both from Venezuela, and shortstop Junior Paniagua, who is from the Dominican Republic.