Astros ink 9 int'l prospects, including 2 top hitters

January 15th, 2023

The Astros are looking to add to their history of success on the international market with two more top prospects.

Houston announced it has signed nine international free agents, including shortstop Camilo Diaz, who ranks No. 17 on the Top 50 International Prospects list, and outfielder Esmil Valencia, who ranks No. 21.

Diaz's deal was for $2.25 million and Valencia received $1.1 million, per a source. The Astros have a base signing pool of $5,284,000.

Diaz already shows plus bat speed, a good approach and plate recognition. Add all of those up and he projects to be an above-average hitter. He also has emerging strength and could be a power threat in the future.

Physically, Diaz is compact and has a strong frame. He could stay at shortstop but would likely do well at third base as well because of his overall defensive abilities. He’s a decent runner and has a solid arm.

Diaz trains with Wilber Nunez in the Dominican Republic. Nunez is a member of MLB’s Trainer Partnership Program.

Valencia, a compact and strong-bodied corner outfielder, is an advanced hitter who also shows some power potential. He hits the ball with authority to all fields and has wowed scouts with his overall offensive prowess.

On defense, Valencia has the skills to play all three outfield positions. He could end up as a corner outfielder because of his strong arm and power potential, but those types of decisions will likely be made once he signs and receives daily instruction. His speed on both sides of the ball and how his body develops will help determine what position he plays.

Valencia trains with Jaime Ramos, a member of MLB’s Trainer Partnership Program, in the Dominican Republic.

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.