With each passing year, we are seeing more and more spectacular talent excelling in the majors from all over the world. Most notably, players hailing from Venezuela and the Dominican Republic have adopted baseball at a young age as a way of life with the dream of playing at the major league level.
On July 2, the 2017-18 International Signing Period opened, allowing teams a chance to find the next Miguel Sano or Jose Altuve. This year, in particular, revealed many MLB caliber players that have a good chance of transitioning over to the big leagues.
Below are some notable players to keep an eye out for. Note: Cuba not included due to the special circumstances where the player needs to obtain residency before signing.
Daniel Flores- (VZ) (C) At the top of my list is Venezuelan-born catching prospect, Daniel Flores. It is difficult to find a catcher that has all the tools to dominate at the major league level. With early comparisons to Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, Flores may be just that player. Standing at 6’1, 190 pounds, the switch hitter agreed to terms with the Boston Red Sox receiving a bonus of $3.3 million. The 16-year-old Phenom has been considered by a number of scouts as the best defensive catcher they have seen in years, some even labeling him ‘”elite”. On top of his defensive skills, Flores is also known for his strong throwing arm impressing dozens of scouts at the International Showcase.
Wander Franco– (DR) (SS) Considered by most as the top International prospect in this year’s class, Wander Franco nephew of big leaguer Eric Aybar signed with the Tampa Bay Rays, finalizing a deal with a bonus of $3.825 million. One American League team’s International Director told MLB columnist Jesse Sanchez this;
“God reached down and touched those hands,” one American League team’s international director said. “Guys with hands like that usually end up in the big leagues. If somebody tells you that they signed Vizquel or Ozzie because they thought they were going to hit in the big leagues, well, that’s just revisionist history.”
The switch-hitter may be young, but he comes from a baseball family. Outside of his uncle, his two older brothers play in the minors. At 5’10, 170 pounds scouts have spoken of his explosive speed and raw power.
Jelfry Marte– (DR) (SS) 16-year-old International prospect Marte signed a deal with the Minnesota Twins with a bonus of $3 million. There have been early comparisons to Francisco Lindor prompting many to believe that with professional instruction Marte has the tools to become an impact player. Marte boasts impressive speed around the basepaths, with base stealing potential, great footwork, quick hands and a strong arm. His defense is absolute, while with maturity and a few pounds Marte has the ability to add power to his repertoire along with being a future gold glove winner.
Ronny Mauricio– (DR) (SS) The New York Mets signed the 16-year-old prospect inking him a bonus of $2.1 million. At 6’2. 165 pounds, Mauricio has been described as one of the most fascinating players in the class. The switch-hitter shows remarkable power from both sides, speed, and athleticism.
Everson Pereira– (VZ) (OF) Ranked by Baseball America and MLB.com as the #4 International prospect signed with the New York Yankees for a cool $1.5million. According to Baseball America, “Pereira has one of the most balanced, well-rounded skill sets in the 2017 (IFA) class, with a promising combination of tools and game awareness…. (He) has a lean, athletic build and projects as a true center fielder. He’s a plus runner who fields his position well, showing good defensive instincts with the ability to lay out for the diving catch. He has a strong arm for his age that earns 50-55 grades with the projection to tick up to a 60 on the 20-80 scale.”
Considered a true center fielder, Pereira could move up very quickly through the Yankees farm system.