5 storylines from Marlins' int'l signings

January 18th, 2022

MIAMI -- Saturday marked the beginning of the international signing period, and the Marlins were very active in adding talent to the organization.

Adrian Lorenzo, the Marlins' new senior director of international operations, held a Zoom on Tuesday to recap the first few days. Below are five storylines from it.

1. High volume of signings
Thirty-four players were named as part of the Marlins' first wave of international signings. More will be announced in the coming days and weeks. Of those 34, 21 are pitchers.

According to Lorenzo, the international department has grown, and it will continue to do so. The Marlins added upper-level evaluator positions, a couple of crosscheckers, a director of international scouting based full time in the Dominican Republic and scouts in the D.R., as well as the western/Occidente region of Venezuela. David Hernandez, who served on the Major League staff last year, transitioned into his new role of manager of international scouting. Lorenzo also said that the higher number of signings can be attributed to fielding a second Dominican Summer League team.

"It just gives you quite a few more roster spots, like a whole team's worth of roster spots to sign players with, which we didn't have," Lorenzo said. "We didn't have that luxury beforehand. And now with the new academy that's coming up, it just affords us the ability to sign more players and have two teams down there, which is a huge benefit in terms of [how] we're trying to grow our system. ... The more players that you get to inject into your system, the better your chances are of coming out with impactful players like that."

2. Building a pipeline
Earlier on Tuesday, the Marlins provided an update on the Dominican Republic Player Development Complex, which broke ground last June. Lorenzo, who visited the site two weeks prior, couldn't contain his excitement -- even using an image as his Zoom background. The 35-acre plot of land will feature three Major League-size playing fields, an agility field, four covered batting cage tunnels and a covered set of six pitching mounds. There will also be a two-story athletic and administration building and a separate state-of-the-art residential complex.

"I can't overstate just how much this impacts the organization in terms of establishing our presence in Latin America, which is our goal -- not just my goal, but our goal as an organization to kind of lead the charge in Latin America," Lorenzo said. "I think it's a really viable way to grow your organization. And then in addition to that, we're the Miami Marlins, right? We're a gateway to Latin America. So it's pretty important that we have a pretty big presence, and I can't think of another way to establish ourselves better than this right here starting with the Dominican Academy."

3. Where is the talent from?
Of the first wave of talent announced, the breakdown by country is as follows: Dominican Republic (19), Venezuela (10), Bahamas (two), Mexico (two) and Colombia (one). Lorenzo said both the Marlins' staffing and signings reflect industry-wide trends, while also tapping into a "burgeoning" market like the Bahamas. Shortstop Cherif Neymour and outfielder Toby Simmons join fellow Bahamians Jazz Chisholm Jr., Ian Lewis, Andre Arthur and Steve Adderley in the organization.

"We're very much open to signing players from all places, but at the moment, the priority countries to this point probably have been the D.R., Venezuela, Cuba, Bahamas," Lorenzo said. "But we'll continue to adjust as we see fit. And obviously Cubans can be found at this point kind of all over the map."

4. Names to keep an eye on
Yoffry Solano, who is from Nizao, D.R., was the Marlins' marquee international signing this year. Ranked No. 44 on MLB.com’s Top 50 International Prospects list, the 17-year-old projects to be an everyday shortstop because of his defensive skills and hitting ability.

"Solano is a guy that we've had our eye on for quite a bit of time, an up-the-middle profile player, really, really strong pound-for-pound, really twitchy with switch-hit ability," Lorenzo said. "[He] really performed for us in a lot of our evaluations, especially offensively. [He] profiles up the middle. Checks a lot of the boxes that we like in terms of up-the-middle athletes with athletic twitchy actions and the chance to hit."

Lorenzo provided a handful of other names fans will be hearing about soon: outfielder Antony Peguero (D.R.), shortstop Lisandro Bonifacio (D.R.), right-hander Jhon Cabral (D.R.), outfielder Danny González (D.R.), righty Santiago Suarez (Venezuela), Neymour and Simmons.

5. Age is just a number
Guidelines for signing international prospects state that the player must turn 16 before he signs and be 17 before Sept. 1 the following year (born between Sept. 1, 2004, and Aug. 31, 2005). Players have to be registered with Major League Baseball in advance in order to be eligible to sign.

But three of the Marlins' first 34 signees are no longer teenagers: left-hander Johandry Fuente and right-handers Erinson Reyes and Elian Serrata -- all from the Dominican Republic. Lorenzo wouldn't characterize it as unusual. In fact, he said the Dominican Academy has a weekly tryout process that allows scouts to scour the country "trying to find hidden gems."

"Sometimes it's just like a progression in terms of the way their bodies develop," Lorenzo said. "Some kids just aren't ready to be evaluated and seen at those early ages. Some are, and those are the ones that you see signing at the earlier ages, but there are some that sign later, especially the pitchers. Pitchers tend to develop at a little bit of a slower pace."