CINCINNATI -- 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 the game’s international stars of tomorrow, and they are following in the footsteps of thousands of international players who laid the groundwork before
CINCINNATI -- 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 the game’s international stars of tomorrow, and they are following in the footsteps of thousands of international players who laid the groundwork before them. One day, these young men could be remembered among the best players in team history.
These are the Reds' top five international prospects of all time:
1) Tony Perez, 1960
A pioneering player out of Cuba who was working at a sugar cane factory before he signed his contract with Cincinnati, Perez went on to have a superlative 23-year career in the Major Leagues -- including 1964-76 and '84-86 with the Reds as a first baseman and third baseman. There were also stints with the Expos, Red Sox and Phillies. Perez was often considered the glue of the Big Red Machine era, and he played in four World Series for the team. His two-run homer in Game 7 was one of three he hit during the '75 World Series win vs. Boston.
Perez hit 379 homers and 1,652 RBIs while totaling 45.6 bWAR during his career, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000.
2) Davey Concepcion, 1967
Signed out of Venezuela as a 19-year-old, Concepcion spent only two years in the Minor Leagues before debuting at shortstop in the big leagues for the Reds in 1970. He spent his entire 19-year career in the Majors with Cincinnati and was a member of the Big Red Machine dynasty of the '70s. Concepcion was the defensive master in the infield for a team that won five division titles, four NL pennants and consecutive World Series in '75-76. He was a nine-time All-Star and won five Gold Glove Awards.
Also a two-time Silver Slugger Award winner, Concepcion is third on the club all-time in hits (2,326), doubles (389) and steals (321) and fifth in runs scored (993).
3) Aroldis Chapman, 2010
Cincinnati stunned the industry when it signed Chapman for $30 million upon his defection from Cuba after he was courted by several other clubs. At the time, the left-hander could throw 102 mph, and that velocity made him an instant sensation. During his rookie season a few months later, he set a Major League record by throwing a 105.1-mph fastball. With the Reds until a trade to the Yankees after the 2015 season, Chapman posted a 2.17 ERA and 146 saves in 164 chances with 546 strikeouts in 319 innings. He was a four-time NL All-Star in Cincinnati.
4) Johnny Cueto, 2004
Signed as a teenager from the Dominican Republic, Cueto moved quickly through the Minors and spent some early inconsistent seasons with the Reds in the big leagues after debuting in 2008 as a 22-year-old. The right-hander had a breakout season in '12, when he went 19-9 with a 2.78 ERA over 217 innings in a league-leading 33 starts. By ’14, Cueto was well established as the Reds’ ace, an All-Star and a 20-game winner. Over his eight seasons with Cincinnati, he was 92-63 with a 3.21 ERA in 213 starts.
5) Raisel Iglesias, 2014
Following the success they had with Chapman, the Reds looked to another Cuban defector when they signed the right-handed Iglesias to a seven-year, $27 million contract with an additional $5 million bonus. Iglesias went straight to the Major Leagues in 2015, and he was their Opening Day starter in ’16. Shoulder issues required his move to the bullpen that same season. He became Cincinnati’s full-time closer in ’17, and he has notched 92 saves over the past three seasons -- fourth most in the Major Leagues. Iglesias has a 3.17 ERA in 252 career games.
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook.