Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

The Mets' Top 6 international signings of all time

@AnthonyDiComo
May 6, 2020

NEW YORK -- Becoming increasingly aggressive in the international market in recent years, the Mets have signed teenagers such as Ronny Mauricio and Francisco Alvarez to seven-figure deals. It will take years before such international prospects are ready, but for players with that sort of potential, the payoff can often

NEW YORK -- Becoming increasingly aggressive in the international market in recent years, the Mets have signed teenagers such as Ronny Mauricio and Francisco Alvarez to seven-figure deals. It will take years before such international prospects are ready, but for players with that sort of potential, the payoff can often be well worth it.

MLB Pipeline recently released its annual Top 30 International Prospects list for players eligible to sign in the 2020-21 signing period. These young players are poised to be the game’s international stars of tomorrow and are following in the footsteps of thousands of players from around the globe who laid the groundwork before them. One day, these young men could be remembered among the best players in team history.

Here are 2020's top international prospects

These are the Mets’ Top 6 international prospects of all time, listed with their country of origin and WAR per Baseball-Reference:

1. José Reyes
Country: Dominican Republic
Career WAR: 37.2

From his days as a teenager, Reyes tantalized international scouts with his five-tool potential. The Mets signed him out of the Dominican Republic shortly after he turned 16, and Reyes reached the big leagues four years later. Immediately, he made an impact, hitting .307 his rookie season and blossoming into full stardom two years later. From 2005-07, Reyes led the National League in stolen bases each season, topping out at a career-high 78 in ’07. He made four All-Star teams over a six-year stretch and won a batting title in '11.

Reyes left New York after 2011, spending four years in Miami, Toronto and Colorado before returning to the Mets for the final three seasons of his career. His 37.2 WAR is ninth-most all-time among foreign-born players who spent at least half their careers as shortstops.

2. Edgardo Alfonzo
Country: Venezuela
Career WAR: 28.8

Signed as a 17-year-old out of Venezuela in 1991, Alfonzo was never a chart-topping prospect during the early part of that decade, but he developed into one of the most accomplished players in franchise history. During eight seasons in New York, Alfonzo hit .292 with 120 home runs and an .812 OPS -- numbers he punctuated with four more homers and 17 RBIs in 24 postseason games. Alfonzo also hit a key home run in Game 163 to push the Mets into the playoffs in '99, demonstrating a knack for clutch hitting that continued into the 2000 postseason; overall, his .318 average with runners in scoring position remains the highest in franchise history.

After leaving the Mets following the 2002 season, Alfonzo played four more big league seasons, though he never replicated his success in New York.

3. Carlos Gómez
Country: Dominican Republic
Career WAR: 24.4

Even though the best years of Gómez’s career came in Milwaukee, the Mets received significant value from him; their signing of Gómez as a 16-year-old in 2002 allowed them to trade for Twins ace Johan Santana six years later. As the linchpin of that deal coming off his rookie season, Gómez played two forgettable years in Minnesota before blossoming into a repeat All-Star with the Brewers. In his best two seasons, 2013-14, Gómez hit .284/.347/.491 with an average of 23 home runs, 30 doubles, seven triples and 37 stolen bases per year. He also won a Gold Glove in center field in ’13.

Like his countryman Reyes, the Dominican-born Gómez came full circle with the Mets at the end of his career, signing with the club for a brief spell last season.

4. Nelson Cruz
Country: Dominican Republic
Career WAR: 37.9

For the Mets, Cruz was the international signing that got away. The Mets signed him at age 17 but traded him to the A’s while he was still a teenager, before he even took a professional at-bat with the organization. Unlike when the Mets dealt Gomez, the return for Cruz was light: infielder Jorge Velandia, who hit .149 over parts of three seasons in Flushing. Neither the Mets nor the A’s, for that matter, envisioned Cruz becoming a six-time All-Star elsewhere as one of baseball’s most productive sluggers even into his late 30s.

5. Octavio Dotel
Country: Dominican Republic
Career WAR: 15.8

Another player known more for his work with other teams, Dotel signed with the Mets out of the Dominican Republic at age 19 and played his rookie season in Flushing, even appearing in two games during the 1999 playoffs. From there, he became an important part of franchise history. After the ’99 season, the Mets traded Dotel and two others to the Astros for Derek Bell and Mike Hampton, the latter of whom left via free agency a year later. When he did, the Mets received the compensatory pick they used to draft David Wright.

As for Dotel, he became a serviceable closer for multiple franchises, racking up 109 saves over a 15-year career and winning a ring as a 37-year-old setup man with the Cardinals in 2011. Dotel’s best year arguably came in 2004, when he struck out 122 batters and saved 36 games over 77 appearances for the Astros and A’s.

6. Amed Rosario
Country: Dominican Republic
Career WAR: 2.3

Unlike the others on this list, Rosario -- the No. 11 overall prospect in 2016 -- has accomplished relatively little at the sport’s highest level. But he was the Mets’ best position player prospect since Reyes and, in the second half of last year, performed well enough to begin making good on that potential. From the All-Star break through season’s end, Rosario hit .319/.351/.453 with six home runs and nine stolen bases, providing the exact type of foundation he needs to vault up this list in the coming years.

Rosario’s journey began in the Dominican Republic, where he signed at age 16. Where it ends, the Mets are excited to find out.

Honorable mentions: José Oquendo (Puerto Rico, 13.6 career WAR), Juan Lagares (Dominican Republic, 12.3), Juan Berenguer (Panama, 10.1), Masato Yoshii (Japan, 7.4), Jeurys Familia (Dominican Republic, 6.7), Jae Weong Seo (South Korea, 6.4), Endy Chavez (Venezuela, 5.0), Wilmer Flores (Venezuela, 3.3).

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.