The Dodgers’ history on the international market dates back to the 1970s with the creation of an academy in the Dominican Republic.
The commitment to scouring Latin America and the Caribbean to find top prospects remains as strong as ever.
The club announced Sunday that it has agreed to terms with 13 international amateur free agents, a group headlined by shortstop Joendry Vargas, the No. 3 overall prospect on the top 50 international list, and outfielder Arnaldo Lantigua, who ranks No. 23. The group includes six right-handed pitchers, five shortstops, an outfielder and a catcher. Six players were signed out of the Domincan Republic, while seven were signed out of Venezuela.
The Dodgers, who have a base signing pool of $4,144,000, have not confirmed the agreements. The deals are pending physicals. Last year, the Dodgers surpassed the luxury tax threshold and had to forfeit $1,000,000 for signing Freddie Freeman.
At 6-foot-3, the long and lean Vargas will face questions about his ability to stay at shortstop, but the Dominican Republic native already shows a quick first step, good hands and instincts for the position. He’ll stay in the middle of the infield for as long as he can, but his plus arm potential will serve him well if he transitions to third base in the future.
At the plate, Vargas shows an advanced approach with the ability to hit for average. One of the top hitters in the class, he hits line drives to all fields and shows home run potential with a mechanically sound swing. He is expected to show more raw power and rack up extra-base hits as he fills out his frame. Vargas trains with Raul “Banana” Valera, a member of MLB’s Trainer Partnership Program.
A power-hitting outfielder from the Dominican Republic, Lantigua is big and strong now, and more strength could be on the way. His ability to make consistent contact and hit for power emerged in recent years. If he continues to develop at a normal pace, he could turn into a middle-of-the order bat in the future because of his offensive prowess. Lantigua can be overly aggressive in the batter’s box and needs to be more patient at the plate, but he’s working on strike zone recognition and fine-tuning his approach.
Overall, he has a chance to stay in center field because of his speed and arm strength, but he also profiles as a right fielder for those reasons. He trains with Marino Sierra in the Dominican Republic.
The Dodgers also agreed to deals with the following players:
Erick Batista, RHP
Anderson Jerez, RHP
Elias Medina, SS
Daniel Mielcarek, SS
Luis Carias, RHP
Harold Gonzalez, SS
Javier Herrera, SS
Eduardo Quintero, C
Samuel Sanchez, RHP
Jesus Tillero, RHP
Robinson Ventura, RHP
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.