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MLB Showcase Preview: Top International Prospects For 2017

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Major League Baseball’s annual two-day international amateur showcase begins tomorrow in the Dominican Republic, where several of the top prospects eligible to sign when the 2017-18 signing period opens on July 2 will be in attendance. The showcase mostly features 15- and 16-year-old players from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, the two predominant sources of international signings, though players from Colombia, Brazil, Nicaragua and Panama are also on the rosters. This upcoming signing period will be the first under the rules of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which include hard caps on each team’s bonus pool. There are 16 teams that will each have a pool of $4.75 million, while six teams get $5.25 million and eight clubs get $5.75 million. Top Players To Watch The top paid player in the 2017 class is expected to be Wander Franco, a switch-hitting Dominican shortstop with good bat control who is a nephew of Padres shortstop Erick Aybar. The Rays are the favorites to land Franco, whose price is expected to get close to $4 million. Behind Franco, Jelfrey Marte, a switch-hitter who stands out for his defense, could be the next highest paid player in the Dominican Republic, with Marte linked to the Twins. Marte’s bonus is expected to be around $3 million. Another switch-hitting shortstop, Ronny Mauricio, has been tied to the Mets, who are also the favorites to land speedy Dominican center fielder Adrian Hernandez for north of $1 million. The Mariners are the favorites to sign one of the top hitters in the class, Julio Rodriguez, a power-hitting corner outfielder from the Dominican Republic with a compact righthanded swing. The Brewers are tied to a pair of outfielders—switch-hitting Larry Ernesto out of the Dominican Republic and Carlos Rodriguez, a lefty from Venezuela—with expected seven-figure prices. The Indians are in the biggest bonus pool bracket at $5.75 million and are tied shortstop Aaron Bracho from Venezuela, who is expected to get at least $1 million. Dominican shortstops Ynmanol Martinez (linked to the Marlins) and Miguel Hiraldo (linked to the Blue Jays) both look to be in line for bonuses of at least $1 million. A pair of switch-hitting Venezuelan shortstops, Alvaro Gonzalez (tied to the Tigers) and Keyber Rodriguez (tied to the Rangers) could also go for around $1 million each. Among the players without heavy ties to a team at this point are catcher Daniel Flores, who was one of the most high-profile prospects in Venezuela entering the year, speedy Dominican outfielder Alberto Rodriguez and lefthanded outfielder Juan Pie. Notable Absences Several high-profile Venezuelan players are absent from the event. Two shortstops tied to the Red Sox—Danny Diaz and Antony Flores—are not on the rosters. Neither are center fielder Everson Pereira (linked to Yankees) or shortstop Juan Querecuto (Mariners). And while two Brazilian players (outfielder Victor Coutinho and righthander Heitor Tokar) are on the rosters, the country’s top player, righthander Eric Pardinho, will not attend. Pardinho, who overmatched the Dominican Republic in the COPABE 16U tournament in Panama in July and even pitched for Brazil in the World Baseball Classic qualifier in September, has been tied to the Blue Jays. Outfielder Raimfer Salinas and catcher Antonio Cabello
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also did not make the trip from Venezuela.

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