Image credit: Gabriel Rodriguez
When it comes to trying to predict the future of international prospects who are signing as young as 16, there isn’t a ton of precision involved given how young and far these players are from the big leagues.
It’s even more difficult now considering how early teams are making decisions to sign players. While agreements and the amounts can always change up until the official signing date, many of the decisions on how much money the players who are signing for today go back as far as 2020, with many in 2021 or 2022.
So while the players signing for million-dollar bonuses will understandably get the most attention, there will be players in every team’s signing class who are signing six-figure deals or even bonuses of under $100,000 who could or who have already taken a significant leap forward.
Hundreds of international players will sign with MLB teams this week. Follow all the latest agreements here.
Below are a group of players signing for under $1 million who are prospects to watch, players who might get more money if the process started today, who have been trending up or took off later in the signing process, or who could be breakout players this season in the Dominican Summer League.
It’s a mix of players at shortstop, third base, the outfield, catcher and on the mound, a collection of players with different skill sets and tools to cover a variety of player types. Players are listed with the teams they have deals with to sign, with most of the players signing their official contracts throughout the day.
Dexter Peralta, SS, Dominican Republic (Yankees)
Peralta wasn’t as famous as some of the top players in the class early in the signing process, but he has taken off over the past year. He has grown to a still lean 6-foot-2, 165 pounds, a high-waist build with tons of strength projection remaining. A switch-hitter, Peralta has a compact, fluid swing from both sides that generates loft with good bat-to-ball skills and hard contact now with the potential for average or better power given his bat speed and how much room he still has to pack on size. He’s a plus runner and a good athlete who moves around well at shortstop.
Gabriel Rodriguez, SS, Venezuela (Guardians)
A shortstop for Venezuela at the U-15 World Cup Americas Qualifier in 2022, Rodriguez had the second highest OPS on the team, batting .400/.478/.600 with no strikeouts in 23 plate appearances. Rodriguez comes from a baseball family—he’s the son of Brewers Venezuelan supervisor Jose Rodriguez—and it shows in both his baseball IQ and clean actions on both sides of the ball. Rodriguez, 16, has a quick, direct swing from the left side with a low swing-and-miss rate, with doubles power that should turn into more over-the-fence shots as he gets stronger. He’s a good athlete who moves his hands and feet well at shortstop with good body control.
Cristian Arguelles, OF, Venezuela (Rockies)
Arguelles is one of the younger players in the class—he turns 17 at the end of June—and he plays with impressive ease of operation both in the batter’s box and the outfield. He’s a slender 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, with polished instincts for his age and a chance for his tools to tick up once he layers on more strength. He has a fluid swing with feel to manipulate the barrel, make frequent contact and use the whole field with gap power. An average runner, Arguelles isn’t a typical burner in center field, but he reads the ball well off the bat with a quick first step and glides around with ease.
Elvin Garcia, SS, Dominican Republic (Orioles)
A lanky, switch-hitting shortstop, Garcia has shown a knack for barreling balls against live pitching, with a line-drive approach and gap power. He’s a plus runner and a good athlete with loose, fluid actions at the position, capable of making throws from different angles with a 60 arm on the 20-80 scouting scale.
Anderson Navas, C, Venezuela (Phillies)
At 6-foot-4, Navas is huge for a catcher, but he’s lean, athletic and moves around well behind the plate. His best tool is his arm, a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale, enabling him to cut his pop times under 1.9 seconds in games on his best throws. Navas’ swing can get uneven at times, but he has solid bat-to-ball skills for his age and is starting to flash bigger power now with his exit velocities likely to climb as he continues to fill out.
Yander Maria, RHP, Dominican Republic (Cubs)
Maria is a 6-foot-4 righthander who showed promising projection indicators early in the scouting process, reaching 89 mph with more physical upside and feel to spin. Now that his signing date has arrived, that physical projection is already starting to come to fruition. Maria has been up to 96 mph, with the potential for upper-90s velocity coming. He pairs it with a sharp, tight-spinning curveball that should be a swing-and-miss weapon.
Jose Paulino, RHP, Dominican Republic (Marlins)
Paulino generated a lot of swing-and-miss when he was pitching with a fastball up to 92 mph. His velocity has spiked higher since then, with the 6-foot-3 righthander now reaching 96 mph with the potential for more on the way. He has a strong, durable frame with good pitchability for his age and a three-pitch mix that give him a starter look, showing feel for both his curveball and changeup.
Andreimi Antunez, SS, Venezuela (Rays)
Antunez is one of the best defensive shortstops who will sign this year. He’s a 5-foot-10 shortstop who is athletic, instinctive and floats around the position with ease, combining soft hands with nimble footwork and a good internal clock. A tick above-average runner, Antunez is a switch-hitter with a good swing, albeit without much strength yet, but he has shown the ability to turn around good velocity for his age with some surprising sting for his size.
Orlando Suarez, RHP, Venezuela (White Sox)
Suarez showed promise earlier in the scouting process with his smooth, easy mechanics and projectable 6-foot-2 frame. Now his fastball has jumped from scraping the low 90s to touching the mid 90s, big velocity for a player who just turned 17 in December. He shows feel to spin a hard curveball in the mid-to-upper 70s, with a firm changeup and both a slider and splitter that he has used as well.
Humberto Cruz, RHP, Mexico (Padres)
As a 16-year-old pitching in the U-18 World Cup last year, Cruz held South Korea to one run over four innings with no walks and two strikeouts against the eventual bronze medalists. Cruz pounds the strike zone with a fastball that has reached 93 mph, showing the arm speed and physical projection left in his 6-foot-2 frame for his velocity to continue ticking up. With feel for both a curveball and changeup, Cruz has the combination of stuff and pitchability to project as a starter.
Carlos Carrasquel, 3B, Venezuela (Red Sox)
Carrasquel has a promising offensive foundation of size, hitting ability and power. He’s 6-foot-4, generates easy power from the right side of the plate and doesn’t have to sell out with an all-or-nothing swing to produce that power, with the strength projection for bigger exit velocity numbers in the future. A shortstop earlier in the scouting process, Carrasquel has gotten faster and improved defensively, but his size and range fit better at third base, with the arm strength to stay on the left side of the infield.
Yairo Padilla, SS, Dominican Republic (Cardinals)
A lanky 6-foot-2, 170 pounds, Padilla is a switch-hitter with a good mix of skills, tools and strength projection remaining. He has a loose, low-effort swing with good balance and the physical upside to grow into significantly more power. Unless he continues to grow and gets too big for the position, he should be able to stick at shortstop, where he fields his position well with a plus arm.
Alfredo Benzan, SS, Dominican Republic (D-backs)
Benzan has grown around three inches since teams were heavily scouting him early on, now up to 6-foot-2, 165 pounds with a ton of space to fill out his athletic frame. He’s a shortstop now, though depending on how he develops physically, he could end up at third base, though he runs well enough that he could go to center field too. He has good hand-eye coordination that helps him make contact from both sides of the plate and recognize pitches, with hands and feet that work well at shortstop and a plus arm that could end up a plus-plus tool once he gets stronger.