Top 20 MLB International Prospects Heading into Spring Training
Top 20 MLB International Prospects Heading into Spring Training
There is a lot of buzz surrounding the young prospects of Major League Baseball teams at this time of the year. The same amount of excitement seems to stick around catchers, pitchers, infielders and outfielders alike. There is another category of prospects that is increasingly important year in and year out. The category I speak of is the top International prospects in baseball.
What will follow is the top 20 international prospects heading into spring training. To clarify who these guys are we need to narrow it down a bit. This is not a list that would include a player like Masahiro Tanaka or Jose Abreu who are MLB ready just after signing. Those are more correctly thought of as international free agents.
The list you are looking at now are all a bunch of kids. Literally most of the guys on this list had to wait until August to sign because they cannot sign with any MLB club until they are 16 years old. Those are the ones we are taking a glance at. Going into spring training, you won’t see this group with the big league club. They’ll mostly be readying for some type of minor step in their development process.
A few interesting facts about the young men that follow might be nice. The Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers each signed three of the top twenty with the Colorado Rockies grabbing two. Not so surprisingly the Dominican Republic is the best represented nationality here with a whopping 12 players. Venezuela is next with 5, Columbia has 2 players and there is 1 from Italy. Without any further delay, here they are.
20 – Griefer Andrade – Seattle Mariners – OF
Griefer was signed out of Venezuela by the Mariners. He has good raw power which would play well in any outfield. His defense is pretty good too considering his age. He does have room for development.
19 – Lucas Tirado – Los Angeles Dodgers – SS
The Dodgers grabbed Tirado from the Dominican Republic as a shortstop. His defensive skills are already quite impressive. Offensively his talents are raw and unpolished but there is a load of potential there as well.
18 – Yimmelvyn Alonzo – Texas Rangers – SS
Alonzo was signed by the Rangers from the Dominican Republic. He has a load of hitting potential that includes a power stroke. Defensively there are questions as whether he will be good enough to stick at shortstop over the long-haul.
17 – Erling Moreno – Chicago Cubs – RHP
Moreno is one of two Columbian pitchers in the top twenty. The Cubs like his fastball as well as the curve and change he already has working for him. He has plus potential for all three pitches.
16 – Anderson Franco – Washington Nationals – 3B
Franco was signed by the Nats out of the Dominican Republic. While there might not be a ton of visual things to look at in his make-up, the Nats like his potential. He has a huge upside offensively with a fast swing and other natural tools. He is basically considered a sleeper pick by the Nats.
15 – Carlos Herrera – Colorado Rockies – SS
Signed by the Rockies from Venezuela, Herrera has a lot to offer already in defense. His quick feet and natural skills on defense are substantial. Offensively there isn’t as much there right now but he has a ton of room he can grow offensively with the right coaching.
14 – Erick Julio – Colorado Rockies – RHP
The second of two Columbian pitchers in this field, Julio has a lot of up-side. His fastball, curveball and changeup are potentially plus pitches though he does have clear room to grow.
13 – Jose Virgilio Almonte – Texas Rangers – OF
From the Dominican Republic, Almonte could be something huge one day for the Rangers. He already has decent line-drive power and even more power on the way. His defense is okay with a lot of up-side. He draws a few comparisons to Miguel Cabrera when he was this age.
12 – Luis Encarnacion – Philadelphia Phillies – 3B
Though there seems to be no guarantee where Encarnacion will end up defensively, the Dominican Republic native sure knows how to hit. He has line drive power, gap power, home run power and hits for average well. If he figures it out defensively and keeps himself focused offensively, he could be a special player for the Phillies.
11 – Yeltsin Gudino – Toronto Blue Jays – SS
Gudino was signed by the Blue Jays out of Venezuela. He already has solid defensive skills that could still get better. Offensively he has shown the ability to be a consistent line drive hitter with some power. He needs the right development behind him and he will be near unstoppable.
10 – Lewin Diaz – Minnesota Twins – OF
Diaz is another Dominican Republic native that the Twins were able to pick up this time. His size and ability both draw comparisons to a young Ryan Howard. He could be a 40-homer guy one day in the big leagues. At the same token it looks like first base or even DH might be his best defensive bet.
9 – Mayky Perez – San Diego Padres – RHP
Out of the Dominican Republic, Perez was signed by the Padres who always seem to be working on pitching. Perez has a chance to be good with a plus slider, changeup and a mid-90s fastball.
8 – Marcos Diplan – Texas Rangers – RHP
Another good signing for the Rangers out of the Dominican Republic, Diplan has some good pitches to work on. His curveball and changeup should be able to develop nicely behind a tailing fastball.
7 – Jose Herrera – Arizona Diamondbacks – C
The DBacks have the only catcher in the top 20 in Herrera who they signed out of Venezuela. Herrera has great all-around natural skills but what most like about him is that special catcher mentality that should allow him to develop into a team leader soon.
6 – Rafael Devers – Boston Red Sox – 3B
The Champs grabbed Devers from the Dominican Republic. The sky is the limit for his great natural offensive skills given the right instruction. Defensively there are questions and he could end up in left field or at second base when all he said and done. Offensively he should be strong enough to make it regardless of his defense.
5 – Leonardo Molina – New York Yankees – OF
Molina is another potentially great future player out of the Dominican Republic. The Yankees enjoy his defensive skills already. Offensively he is gifted enough that he has real potential to grow into a 5-tool player for the Yankees future outfield.
4 – Marten Gasparini – Kansas City Royals – SS
The lone Italian player in the top 20, don’t expect the Royals to see MLB time for Gasparini for a while. When he does get his feet moving in the right direction however he has the tools to be good to great at shortstop.
3 – Gleyber Torres – Chicago Cubs – SS
Torres is the highest ranking Venezuelan player in the top 20 and the Cubs have yet another potentially great young player on their hands. He is already solid on defense right now. Offensively he has a great overall skill set that could lead to him being a special hitter in the bigs.
2 – Micker Adolfo Zapata – Chicago White Sox – OF
Zapata, signed by the White Sox out of the Dominican Republic, could be the most complete player of the top few. He has a lot of plus potential offensively. Defensively he could eventually play any outfield position quite well.
1 – Eloy Jimenez – Chicago Cubs – OF
Jimenez is not only the highest ranking player from the Dominican Republic but the Cubs have the top ranking player of the top 20. That’s impressive considering the number of great young prospects they already had in the mix. His defense is solid right now and his offense is decent as well. Power should be something that comes storming forward in Jimenez as he fills out his huge 6’- 4” frame over the next several years.