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International Reviews: Detroit Tigers

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Alvaro Gonzalez (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

Total 2017 signings: 31. 

Top 2017-18 Signing: SS Alvaro Gonzalez, Venezuela, $1 million.

When the Venezuelan Summer League shut down two years ago, the Tigers started to field two teams in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. In 2018, the Tigers will keep both of their GCL teams and in addition will add another Dominican Summer League club, giving them four teams total between the DSL and GCL. The move gives the Tigers more rosters spots and more time to develop players at their academy in the Dominican Republic, with all of their 2017 signings ticketed for the DSL this season.

When the 2017-18 international signing period opened on July 2, the Tigers signed Venezuelan shortstop Alvaro Gonzalez for $1 million. A 17-year-old who trained with Hender Martinez, Gonzalez has added strength since signing to his athletic 6-foot-1, 160-pounds frame. Gonzalez has a plus arm to play on the left side of the infield, although there’s effort to his throwing motion that cuts into his accuracy. He’s an average runner and his hands work well, though some scouts weren’t sure if his quickness and coordination were ideal at shortstop, and depending how he fills out, he could go to third base. Some clubs had questions about Gonzalez’s hitting mechanics, but the Tigers liked Gonzalez’s hitting ability from the right side. He’s a line-drive hitter right now with doubles power now that should turn into some more home runs as he gets stronger.

Sons of former big leaguers are sprinkled throughout the minor leagues. In September, the Tigers added one to their system when they signed third baseman Pedro Martinez Jr. for $800,000. Martinez is 17 and grew up in the Dominican Republic, where he went to a bilingual school that he’s scheduled to graduate form this year and already speaks English.

No surprise given his background, Martinez has a high baseball IQ. He’s an offensive-minded player with a mature hitting approach for his age, recognizing pitches well and showing good strike-zone discipline. Martinez impressed the Tigers with his righthanded swing and showed doubles power now with an occasional ball over the fence, and the projection to grow into average to above-average power in the future. At 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, Martinez has to improve his quickness but should be able to stay at third base, where he has an average arm.

Carlos Iriogyen, a 17-year-old shortstop from Venezuela, signed for $550,000 on July 2. Irigoyen has a lanky, physically underdeveloped build (6-foot-2, 170 pounds) with high-level physical projection and a lot of space to fill out his frame. A fringe-average runner, Irigoyen isn’t a burner but has the actions to stay at shortstop with good hands, footwork, a strong arm and good instincts. A righthanded hitter, Irigoyen has a quick, compact swing and a good approach for his age. He’s a line-drive hitter right now who should grow into more power as he gets stronger. Irigoyen trained with Jose Bellorin.

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Tarik Skubal Aces First Taste Of Double-A

The southpaw might have been the No. 1 breakout prospects of 2019, and he gives the Tigers a talented trio of high-upside pitchers.

Dominican outfielder Jose Rodriguez, who signed for $360,000 in July, showed a steady tool set across the board. At 17, Rodriguez is 6-foot-1, 170 pounds with good future strength projection and a solid righthanded bat. He’s mostly a line-drive hitter now but makes hard contact and could tap into more power once he gets stronger and learns how to get more lift in his swing. He’s an average runner who projects best as a corner outfielder. Rodriguez trained with John Carmona.

Yoneiry Acevedo is a 17-year-old Dominican shortstop the Tigers signed for $300,000 in July. Acevedo isn’t that big (5-foot-10, 150 pounds) but he’s an athletic, acrobatic defender at shortstop with a chance to be an above-average defender. He’s a plus runner with a plus arm, soft hands and easy actions at shortstop. Acevedo has little thump in his bat and probably never will have much power but he’s shown a contact-oriented bat from both sides of the plate. He trained with Wellington Gonzalez.

Dominican outfielder Adonis Figuereo signed with the Tigers for $300,000 on July 2. Figuereo, 16, is slender, long-limbed lefty (6-foot-2, 170 pounds) showing good power now with the strength projection for the power to climb as he fills out. Power is the best tool on Figuereo, who fits best in an outfield corner.

Another Dominican outfielder, Iverson Leonardo, signed for $275,000 in September, not long after he turned 16 on Aug. 21. One of the youngest players in the 2017-18 class, Leonardo is a center fielder with a lively, athletic build (6 feet, 175 pounds) and plus speed in center field. Leonardo doesn’t have much power now but he’s a center fielder with a chance to hit from the left side. He trained with El Niche.

Kevin Nivar was born in New York but grew up in the Dominican Republic, where he signed with the Tigers for $260,000 in July. At 17, Nivar has a strong, stocky build (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) and the Tigers like his offensive ability after seeing him perform well in games. He has a short swing from the right side and a chance to grow into average power. Nivar has a solid arm but his range is probably better suited for second base. He trained with his father, who is known as Nube.

Venezuelan outfielder Jose Reina signed with the Tigers for $160,000 in July. Reina, a 17-year-old righthanded hitter, has a lean, projectable frame (6-foot-2, 160 pounds) and could stick in center field, where he has average speed and an above-average arm, which is his best present tool. He trained with Jesus Blanco.

Adolfo Bauza, a 17-year-old Venezuelan righthander, signed for $150,000 in July. He’s a projection arm with a lot of room to fill out his 6-foot-2, 165-pound frame and quick arm speed, which should allow him to add to his 86-88 mph fastball once he gains weight. He throws a curveball and a changeup, with his curveball more advanced right now.

The Tigers also signed Martino Olivas, a righthanded-hitting shortstop from Tijuana in the Mexican League in July. An offensive-minded shortstop, Olivas was one of the better hitters in Mexico last year, showing good bat speed and a knack for hitting in games with occasional power. He’s a fringy runner with an above-average arm.

During the 2016-17 signing period last year in February, the Tigers signed Australian righthander Matthew Beattie for $142,000. Beattie didn’t pitch for the Tigers last year, instead staying in Australia to finish high school and play for his club team, but he’s in the U.S. now and will pitch here in 2018. Beattie, 19, is 6-foot-4, 185 pounds and has shown good feel for pitching with a fastball that’s touched 92 mph and a developing secondary arsenal that includes a changeup and curveball.

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