NL West 2018 International Signing Preview
With the 2018-19 international signing period opening on July 2, here are Baseball America's forecasts of every National League West club's expected signings.
The D-backs look poised to come away with a strong mix of talent from the 2018 class. Their biggest signing will likely be Alvin Guzman, a bouncy, athletic center fielder out of the Dominican Republic with good physical projection remaining. He’s a fast runner with an excellent arm that should continue to tick up once he gets stronger. Venezuelan Abraham Calzadilla, also connected to Arizona, is one of the top pitching prospects in the class, with a starter profile between his three-pitch mix and feel for pitching. Diomedes Sierra from the Dominican Republic is one of the hardest throwing lefties in the class, with a fastball that has reached 92 mph. Sierra and shortstop Luis Rubio, who played for Venezuela last year in the COPABE 15U Championship, are both tied to the D-backs.
The Rockies have generally gravitated toward skillful, instinctive players with their top signings out of Latin America in recent years. That will likely be true again in 2018. The Rockies are linked to Dominican shortstop Juan Guerrero, a 6-foot-1 righthanded hitter with a knack for barreling balls in games. Another Dominican shortstop linked to the Rockies is Warming Bernabel, who earns praise from scouts for his mature, patient hitting approach and ability to get on base. Both players are projected to sign for bonuses in the mid-to-high six figures. Jairo Custodio, a Dominican outfielder from the same program as Bernabel, is another Rockies target.
Los Angeles Dodgers
When Ismael Cruz ran the international program for Toronto, the Blue Jays signed two players who Baseball America ranked as the No. 1 player in their respective classes in Franklin Barreto and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Now, Cruz is in charge of the Dodgers’ international scouting, and the club looks likely to sign Venezuelan catcher Diego Cartaya, the top player in Venezuela and, for some scouts, the top 16-year-old prospect in the entire 2018 class. Cartaya projects to stick behind the plate with a strong arm, a sound swing and a firm grasp of the strike zone. The Dodgers are also frontrunners to sign Jerming Rosario, one of the top pitching prospects in the Dominican Republic. Dominican third baseman Alex De Jesus and Venezuelan shortstop Miguel Droz are two more players connected to the Dodgers.
San Francisco Giants
After spending the last two years under the penalty, the Giants look poised for a great year of international signings. The expected headliner of their class is Dominican shortstop Marco Luciano. For some clubs, Luciano is the top 16-year-old player in the 2018 class. While there are questions about whether Luciano will stick at shortstop long-term, he generates easy power and could potentially hit in the middle of a lineup. They’re also likely to sign one of the top Cuban players available, 17-year-old outfielder Jairo Pomares, who has a chance to stay in center field and jumps out for his sweet swing from the left side. He’s expected to sign for just under $1 million. Outfielder Luis Matos has been one of the better hitters at Venezuelan showcases over the scouting process and is also tied to the Giants.
Christian Yelich Claims 2018 National League MVP Award
Yelich was voted the 2018 MVP by the Baseball Writers Association of America, topping Javy Baez and Nolan Arenado. Yelich received 29 of 30 first-place votes.
San Diego Padres
After their 2016-17 spending spree, the Padres were under the penalty last year and will be limited to bonuses of no more than $300,000 again this year. While other teams in that situation often trade away a portion of their pool space, the Padres spent their full $5.75 million pool last year, and with a $5.5 million pool in 2018-19, the Padres will probably spend it all again.
The Padres are likely to sign Charlie Aquino, an athletic Dominican shortstop with a lively 6-foot-2 frame and plus speed. Another Dominican shortstop linked to the Padres, Euribel Angeles, has a short swing and can put a surprising charge into the ball from the right side of the plate. Wilmert Paula is a lefthanded-hitting shortstop from the Dominican Republic linked to the Padres, as is speedy Dominican center fielder Reginald Dowston. The Padres are connected to a handful of power bats out of the Dominican Republic. One is Alberto Fabian, a lefthanded outfielder with a simple swing and big power with left field/first base defensive tools. Two others are 6-foot-6 Axcel Peralta and 6-foot-4 Enmanuel Rodriguez. Justin Diaz, a switch-hitting shortstop, and outfielder Jose Miguel Velez, are two others from the Dominican Republic with ties to the Padres. Out of Venezuela, the Padres are connected to outfielder Eduard Hidalgo, catchers Alex Ramirez and Wilfredo Tovar and shortstops Neifi Antunez, Rafael Martinez and Nerwilliams Cedeno.