Arizona Diamondbacks 2024 International Review


The D-backs have gotten big seasons this year from a pair of their international signings, with first baseman Deyvison De Los Santos showing huge power in the upper levels and righthander Yilber Diaz missing plenty of bats with his high-octane stuff in Double-A. Shortstop Cristofer Torin is showing a good mix of contact skills and plate discipline in Low-A Visalia as a teenager, while shortstop Jeremy Rodriguez—traded to the Mets last year for outfielder Tommy Pham—is one of the better prospects in the complex leagues. This year the D-backs came away with a deep group of position players that’s especially strong in the outfield. 

Top Of The Class

Arizona’s top signing this year was 16-year-old Dominican outfielder Adriel Radney, who got $1.85 million. He’s 6-foot-3, 180 pounds with a good blend of hitting ability and physical upside. Radney has a relaxed, balanced swing, and while some scouts thought there would be swing-and-miss as he moves up the ladder, he’s typically able to keep his long limbs under control and be on time.

Radney has a good approach for his age with the ability to drive the ball for extra-base damage to all fields and grow into what should be at least plus raw power. Radney’s potential in the batter’s box is his biggest draw, but he has maintained his athleticism well enough to start his career in center field. Most likely he ends up in a corner as he fills out, with average speed and arm strength. He’s the brother of Chariel Radney, a 19-year-old lefty in the Rays system. 

The D-backs also spent big to sign 17-year-old Dominican outfielder Belfi Rivera for $1.8 million. He’s 6 feet, 165 pounds, a potential tablesetter in the lineup who can play center field with above-average athleticism and plus speed, good reads and an average arm. He’s a lefthanded hitter who some scouts thought would get long and pull-happy at times, but those highest on him thought he had a sound swing, used his hands well and showed good strike-zone judgment. It’s a medium frame and he can put a surprising charge into the ball for his size, but power probably won’t ever be a big part of his game. 

Names To Know

Alfredo Benzan, SS, Dominican Republic: When teams were scouting Benzan, he was a 5-foot-11 shortstop who stood out for his in-game skills, especially at the plate. Since then he has grown to 6-foot-2, 165 pounds, signing for $550,000. That growth spurt has changed his profile, both offensively and in the field. Benzan, 17, has hit well from both sides of the plate against live pitching. He has a solid grasp of the strike zone and good hand-eye coordination to make frequent contact with a simple swing that he’s able to keep tight even with his now longer levers.

With room to pack on another 30-plus pounds, Benzan has gap power now but a lot of space to add weight and more power as he fills out. Benzan’s coordination is evident as shortstop, though as he’s gotten bigger and his actions have gotten longer, there’s a greater chance he ends up moving elsewhere. He should get a chance to develop at shortstop, where he moves his feet well, but some scouts think he could be a better fit at third base. His arm is plus and could end up a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. Others think he will end up in center field with his above-average speed and long strides. 

Erick de la Cruz, SS, Dominican Republic: Cruz stood out for his hitting ability when he signed for $455,000 at 17. He’s 6 feet, 160 pounds, a righthanded hitter with a simple stroke, a good eye for the strike zone and strong hands to make hard contact for his wiry frame. He’s a good athlete with the actions for the middle infield, though he’s a bat-first player who could flip over to second base long term. 

Raily Liriano, OF, Dominican Republic: Liriano has been trending up as a power/speed threat who got $400,000. He’s a tooled-up, 17-year-old outfielder who had some crudeness to his game as an amateur with big upside if everything clicks. He has outstanding bat speed from the right side, generating raw power that flashes plus from his 6-foot-2, 160-pound frame and the strength projection where that could end up a plus-plus tool. It’s an extremely quick bat, but Liriano had a higher swing-and-miss rate as an amateur with a pull-happy approach and timing issues, so he has reworked his swing in an attempt to stay shorter and through the middle of the field more often.

The early returns have been exciting, with Liriano hitting a home run in each of his first four DSL preseason games. Better breaking pitches will test Liriano as he moves up, but he can hammer a fastball and has the athleticism that has helped him make significant improvements in the box already. Liriano is also at least a plus runner and has an above-average arm. His defensive instincts will need more polish to be able to stick in center field, so he could stick there or shift over to right field. 

Oscar Aponte, OF, Dominican Republic: Aponte was getting a lot of attention early in the scouting process before ultimately signing for $250,000. He’s 5-foot-11, 160 pounds at 17, an athletic center fielder with a direct swing and good bat-to-ball skills from the right side. It’s a line-drive approach with gap power, so getting stronger will be important, though power might never be a big part of his game. Aponte is an aggressive, instinctive player, which along with his plus speed gives him a chance to steal a lot of bases and stay in center field. 

Wilmeyber Peñuela, SS, Venezuela: Peñuela is a 5-foot-10, 165-pound switch hitter signed at 17 for $200,000. His swing works well from both sides of the plate, leading to frequent contact with an aggressive approach and gap power. He’s a good athlete and a plus runner, possibly getting time at shortstop but more likely fitting at either second base or center field long term.  

Pedro Blanco, OF/1B, Dominican Republic: Blanco is the son of Tony Blanco, who played in the big leagues briefly with the Nationals in 2005 before becoming a slugger in Japan, with three seasons of 30-plus home runs in Nippon Professional Baseball. He’s the younger brother of Tony Blanco Jr., a 6-foot-7, 250-pound first baseman with 80 raw power as a 19-year-old righthanded hitter in the Rookie-level Florida Complex League. Pedro is another power bat, signing for $165,000. He’s not as tall as his brother, but he packs a lot of strength into his 6-foot-1, 205-pound build at 17 and has plus raw power from the left side. Blanco has an aggressive approach with good balance and body control in the box. Blanco will have to mash, as he’s a left fielder who is learning first base. 

Santiago Ramos, C, Venezuela: Signed for $150,000, Ramos has a direct, easy swing from the left side. He’s a disciplined hitter who makes frequent contact and draws walks, so the components are there for him to get on base at a high clip, though he will have to add strength to his 5-foot-10, 170 pounds to have more than occasional doubles pop. Ramos has the attributes to stick at catcher. He’s working to become a better blocker, but he receives pitches well, has an average arm and draws praise for his leadership traits that managers like to have in a catcher. 

Sleeper Watch

The D-backs spent all of their bonuses of $100,000 or more on position players, with a wide group of pitchers at lower price points. Among those arms, one to watch is Colombian righthander Angel Beltran, the younger brother of Orioles Low-A righthander Hugo Beltran. Angel, signed for $30,000, is young for class (he’s 16 until July 13) but is already 6-foot-4, 230 pounds. For his age and size, he moves well on the mound to throw strikes with a fastball that touches 93 mph with good extension and feel for his secondaries, including a hard slider with good lateral action. 

Neiker Palacios, a 17-year-old Venezuelan righthander, signed for $25,000. He’s a skinny 6-foot-1, 170 pounds with good arm action in a loose, free-and-easy delivery and a fastball up to 90 mph. His fastball already plays up because of its riding life and the strength projection is there for him to throw harder. He throws a high-spin curveball with good depth as well, giving him the building blocks and projection to be a starter if he adds more power to his stuff. 

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone