Rangers to land No. 2 international prospect, two shortstops

January 15th, 2024

The Rangers have agreed to terms with three talented prospects on the international market.

Outfielder Paulino Santana (MLB.com’s No. 2 international prospect), shortstop Curley Martha (No. 29) and shortstop Yolfran Castillo (No. 46) reached deals with the club after Monday's opening of the 2024 signing period. The agreements have not yet been confirmed.

The Rangers have a pool of $4,652,200. Texas lost $1 million for signing right-handed pitchers Nathan Eovaldi and Jacob deGrom, who rejected qualifying offers from their former clubs before joining Texas.

Santana fits the mold of a five-tool player. If the 16-year-old from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, played against premier American high-school talents, it's believed that he would line up well with the elite of the class. He has drawn comparisons to Julio Rodríguez both on and off the field.

Known as a natural hitter with plus power potential, the right-handed-hitting Santana has a strong feel for the strike zone. Evaluators are impressed by his ability to recall pitches and adjust. His 6-foot-2 frame produces fast-twitch reactions that have many thinking he could consistently hit for both average and extra bases as he matures.

Santana’s plus speed on the basepaths and in the field gives him the chance to play center field and stick there as he climbs through the system. Praised for his physical attributes and approach in a similar vein to last year’s No. 1 international prospect Ethan Salas, who climbed to Double-A in his first pro season, Santana could be a similarly fast riser through the ranks.

Martha was a standout at the 2019 Little League World Series for Curacao, swatting three homers en route to leading his team to the World Championship Game. Texas has long fostered a connection with players from the island nation, having signed former top prospect Jurickson Profar in 2009.

Known as a pure hitter with plus bat speed and a solid, strong build, the bat is unquestionably Martha’s leading tool. His advanced instincts have earned praise from evaluators, and his all-around athleticism and strength have earned positive marks as he continues to hone his game.

Martha has shown the ability to play shortstop as his pro career gets underway, but his diverse skill set and strong arm could also lead to him seeing time at second or third base.

Castillo doesn't boast the “wow” factor of the other top international prospects in this year’s class, but the foundation is there for future success.

Castillo has a medium frame with a lean and athletic body. There’s a lot of room to project growth and strength as he matures and develops. He utilizes a wide-open stance with a slight uppercut swing and lots of quickness. Castillo has a real feel for hitting and understands the strike zone, and he made significant improvements during the past year.

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.

That means players born between Sept. 1, 2006, and Aug. 31, 2007, will be eligible to sign in the current signing period. Players must be registered with Major League Baseball in advance to be eligible to sign.