Cincinnati Reds 2024 International Review


After graduating Elly de la Cruz, the Reds have most of their international talent congregated at the lower levels of their farm system. Catcher Alfredo Duno, their big signing from 2023, skipped the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League after playing in the Dominican Summer League last year and is hitting well in Low-A Daytona as an 18-year-old. He’s teammates with third baseman Ricardo Cabrera, the team’s top international signing from 2022 who has also developed into one of the team’s better lower-level prospects. For 2024, the Reds’ class is headlined by another seven-figure signing with the potential to move quickly.

Top Of The Class

The Reds landed one of the top pure hitters available when they signed 17-year-old Dominican outfielder Adolfo Sanchez for $2.7 million, the sixth-highest bonus for an international prospect in 2024 and tied with Victor Hurtado of the Nationals for the most given to an outfielder this signing period. At 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, Sanchez is a lefty with an efficient, aesthetically pleasing swing, staying short, simple and balanced. Sanchez recognizes pitches well and makes good swing decisions with a mature approach and the barrel accuracy to consistently square up both lefties and righties at a high clip.

He has been a strong game performer with his hitting ability standing out more than his raw power but with that power trending up quickly, including deep shots the opposite way. Sanchez can backspin the ball well and has more room on his lean frame to add strength to grow into potentially average if not better future power.

Sanchez is a skillful player, something that shows up in center field as well. He’s an instinctive defender who reads the ball well off the bat and takes clean routes. Sanchez is an average runner, so he doesn’t have typical center field speed. He has a lean, high-waist frame and an easy, gliding gait, so if he’s able to get faster, that would enhance his chances to stick in center field. He has a plus arm and makes accurate throws, so he could play right field if he does move to a corner.

Cincinnati’s two marquee signings this year were Sanchez and 17-year-old Dominican shortstop Naibel Mariano, who got $1.65 million. He sticks out right away for his 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame that’s lean and athletic with long limbs, looking like a player who should pack on considerable strength and might still grow taller. Mariano is a good fastball hitter with the ability to backspin the baseball from the right side of the plate without selling out his swing.

It’s not huge raw power right now, but with his bat speed and physical projection he could grow into 25-plus home run juice. Mariano’s offensive game has made strides, though he’s more about projection than hitting polish, so he will need to make adjustments as he sees better breaking balls. An average runner with an above-average arm, Mariano has retained his athleticism while showing the hands and potentially the range to stay at shortstop. At his size, Mariano might ultimately outgrow shortstop if he loses some mobility, with the tools there to handle third base. 

Names To Know

Jirvin Morillo, C, Venezuela: Morillo is an offensive-minded catcher with big power who signed with the Reds for $420,000. He’s a 17-year-old switch-hitter at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds who typically put together good at-bats in Venezuela and can put on a huge show in batting practice, launching balls out from the middle of the field over to his pull side from both sides of the plate. Morillo has an average arm and will need to clean up some things with his footwork and release to be more consistent, but his athleticism should be an asset behind the plate and making adjustments. He runs well enough that he could play the outfield as well if needed. 

Diorland Zambrano, SS, Venezuela: The Reds signed Zambrano, 17, for $300,000. He’s 5-foot-10, 170 pounds who stands out more in games than he does in a workout. He’s a high baseball IQ player who puts together quality at-bats with a line-drive approach and gap power from the right side. A high-energy player, Zambrano isn’t flashy but is fundamentally sound with a good internal clock and should play all over the infield. 

Juan Brown, 3B, Aruba: Brown signed for $300,000 in January but had knee surgery after that, so he’s still working his way back to be ready to play this season. A cousin of Padres infielder Xander Bogaerts, Brown stands out physically for a 16-year-old at 6-foot-3, 185 pounds. His size and strength potential bodes well for his future power, though he might need more time to catch up to his peers after missing time and coming from a country where he hasn’t faced much quality pitching.

Pablo Nuñez, OF, Venezuela: A $250,000 signing, Nuñez is a slender 5-foot-10 lefty who sprays line drives around the field. He’s 17 with a good approach for his age, working the count and showing comfort hitting with two strikes. He will need to get stronger to do more damage on contact, with his on-base skills and above-average speed carrying his value. He should get a chance to develop in center field, where he has an average arm and gets good reads.

Shendrion Martinus, SS, Curacao: Signed for $175,000, Martinus is the younger brother of infielder/outfielder Mairoshendrick Martinus, who signed with the Dodgers in 2022 and is now in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League. Shendrion spent time both as a pitcher and an infielder in Curacao, but his full-time focus now is as a position player. He’s 5-foot-10, 160 pounds with good instincts for the game coming from a baseball family, though he might need more reps to catch up to game speed after splitting his time in Curacao. He could move around the infield, with second or third base potentially his best fits. 

Sleeper Watch

Righthander Franyer Valdez, a 17-year-old from Venezuela, has shown feel for a three-pitch mix. He’s 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, a strong build for his age with a fairly, sound athletic delivery that he’s able to repeat to throw strikes with a fastball into the low-90s, a tight breaking ball and a changeup, with the mix of stuff and pitchability to develop as a starter.

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