Mariners to add pair of top Dominican shortstop prospects

January 15th, 2024

The Mariners agreed to terms with international shortstop prospects Dawel Joseph (No. 7) and Leandro Romero (No. 48) for an estimated $3 million and $1 million, respectively, as the 2024 signing period opened on Monday. The club has not yet confirmed the agreements.

The Mariners have $6.52 million in pool money.

This class is full of talented shortstops, but few have a ceiling as high as Joseph's. With a similar build to Twins outfielder Byron Buxton, Joseph could wind up becoming the infield version of the Minnesota All-Star. He's an athletic shortstop with plus speed potential, and although he is not as quick as when he initially burst onto the scene, he still has enough wheels to be a threat on the basepaths.

Offensively, scouts have raved about his simple, direct hitting mechanics. The teenage prospect has performed well in recent games -- drawing more walks and hitting for power -- a trend that could continue as he grows into his 6-foot-2 frame. On the other side of the diamond, Joseph has made significant strides at shortstop. Not only does he project to stick at the position, but scouts think he could even develop into an above-average defender there.

Romero is a high-upside prospect with lots of potential and some risk. He possesses tons of bat speed and has plenty of raw power that could increase as he fills out his frame. He also has shown the ability to spray the ball to all parts of the field. Like many young international prospects, there are a lot of moving parts to his swing and a need for more plate discipline.

Romero has the range and arm strength to stick at shortstop, though he needs a more consistent approach to cut down on errors and misplays. The athletic teen has the potential to be an above-average runner and his overall ceiling is high, which is why he is so appealing to scouts.

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.

That means players born between Sept. 1, 2006, and Aug. 31, 2007, will be eligible to sign in the current signing period. Players must be registered with Major League Baseball in advance to be eligible to sign.