Cardinals ink 6-foot-9 Venezuelan RHP prospect

January 15th, 2023

The Cardinals believe they have found an exciting young arm in the international signing period.

The club has agreed to a deal with Venezuelan right-hander Reiner Lopez, who ranks No. 36 on the Top 50 International Prospects list. The Cardinals, who have a base signing pool of $5,284,000, announced the news on Sunday along with 16 other international signings.

Tall and lean with long legs and lots of projection, the six-foot-nine Lopez pounds the strike zone and profiles as a starter. He features a three-quarters to over-the-top arm slot and a simple, repeatable delivery. His fastball sits in the 89-93 mph range and more velocity could be on the way because of his sound delivery and projected arm strength.

For now, his changeup is his best secondary pitch, and he also features an emerging slider. Both pitches need to be polished, but that’s common for pitchers his age. He also throws a curveball.

Lopez, who trains with Douglas Aguiar, has been praised for his poise on the mound and overall makeup. He reminds some scouts of Sandy Alcantara at the same age.

An international player is eligible to sign with a Major League team between Jan. 15 and Dec. 15. He must turn 16 before he signs and be 17 before Sept. 1 the following year -- in practical terms, that means players born between Sept. 1, 2005, and Aug. 31, 2006, will be eligible to sign in the upcoming signing period. Players have to be registered with Major League Baseball in advance in order to be eligible to sign.

Teams are allowed to trade international bonus pool money starting Jan. 15.