5 int'l prospects to watch from NL Central

June 28th, 2018

ATLANTA -- While American, Puerto Rican and Canadian high school and college players anticipate the MLB Draft each June to realize their baseball dreams, international players work on a different schedule.

Around the rest of the world, teenage prospects await their life-changing moment on or after July 2, when the international signing period begins for Major League Baseball.

Dozens of great players have been signed through this process, including -- originally with the Marlins -- and burgeoning Yankees star second baseman , who was penned by the Cubs as a teenager.

An international player is eligible to sign with a Major League team between July 2 through June 15 of the next year if he is 17 or will turn 17 by the end of the first season of his contract. The rules say clubs that receive a Competitive Balance Pick in Round B of the Draft receive a pool of $6,025,400, while clubs that receive a Competitive Balance Pick in Round A of the Draft receive $5,504,500. All other clubs receive $4,983,500.

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As the new signing period is about to start, MLB.com is taking a look at a top prospect on each club that was signed during a previous July 2 international signing period. All five clubs in the National League Central have benefited from players who originally signed as international free agents, and they all have plenty more international talent on the way.


The player:
Shortstop Jean Carmona (2016-17 signing period)

How's he doing: Now 18, Carmona made it stateside as a 17-year-old last year and now is flashing great on-base skills at Advanced Rookie-level Helena against older opponents. In his first 37 plate appearances this season, the switch-hitter posted a .378 on-base percentage and an .847 OPS, with a home run from each side of the plate. He's No. 15 and rising on MLB Pipeline's list of Milwaukee's top prospects.

ETA: 2022?


The player:
Outfielder Adanson Cruz (July 2, 2017)

How he's doing: Through his first 18 games with the Cardinals' Dominican Summer League team this year, Cruz was hitting .234/.359/.328. The Cardinals were limited in how much they could spend on players in the international market last year because they went over their allotted pool in the previous signing period. Cruz received a $300,000 bonus -- the largest the Cards could give. The Cardinals project him to hit for power and believe he can have a plus arm. They're using him primarily as a center fielder right now. He's from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, the same area the Cardinals found and the late Oscar Taveras. He is currently not ranked in the team's top 30 prospects list.

ETA: 2023?


The player:
Catcher/First baseman Miguel Amaya (signed July 17, 2015)

How's he doing: Amaya received $1 million from the Cubs when he signed out of Panama. The team liked his work ethic and was considered the Northwest League's top defensive catcher in 2017. Ranked 10th on MLB Pipeline's list of top 30 Cubs prospects, Amaya, 19, batted .228 last season at short-season Eugene but has fared much better at the plate this year, hitting .275 at Class A South Bend through Tuesday.

ETA: Amaya isn't close to the big leagues, and the Cubs have two young talented catchers in , who was signed on July 2, 2009, and , who is at Triple-A. But keep an eye on Amaya, especially if he continues to progress as he did last year to this season offensively.


The player:
Outfielder Lolo Sanchez (July 2, 2015)

How's he doing: The Pirates gave Sanchez a $450,000 bonus three years ago, and their investment appears to be paying off. Sanchez, 19, emerged last season as one of the top prospects in the lower levels of Pittsburgh's system. Their No. 9 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, he slashed .284/.359/.417 with more walks (21) than strikeouts (19) while playing center field in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. Sanchez has struggled early on in his first full season, hitting .226/.297/.322 for Class A West Virginia as of Tuesday. But Sanchez still has impressive tools across the board. It starts with his speed, which he used to steal home in a big league Spring Training game earlier this year.

ETA: Sanchez is so young and so far away from the Majors, it's hard to say with any certainty. If he advances to Class A Advanced Bradenton by next season and climbs one level per season, he could be ready for Pittsburgh sometime in 2021.


The player:
Outfielder (Sept. 21, 2012)

How's he doing: Although signed out of the Dominican Republic almost six years ago for $70,000, Siri is getting close to the big leagues. Now 22 and the No. 7 prospect in the organization according to MLB Pipeline, Siri came on strong with a breakthrough 2017 at Class A Dayton and set the Midwest League record with a 39-game hitting streak. A chance to impress in big league camp this year was foiled at Spring Training because of an left thumb injured during an early Cactus League game. But he's recovered well, and after just 30 games at Class A Advanced Daytona, Siri was promoted to Double-A Pensacola last week. Perhaps a future replacement for in center field, Siri is also viewed as an outstanding defensive player that can also impact a game at the plate with power and speed.

ETA: 2019