Each organization's top international prospect

January 12th, 2024

The 2024 international signing period opens on Monday, Jan. 15, and one only need look at last year’s Major League Baseball award winners to see how important finding talent in this market can be.

It can be a high-profile seven-figure bonus signing like Shohei Ohtani, signed in 2017 and now a two-time MVP, or more of a low-key signing like Ronald Acuña Jr., who got $100K in 2014 and just won his first MVP Award last year.

There are scores of exciting young players who came from other countries hoping to be next in line in each system. Let’s take a look at the top international prospect in each organization.


Blue Jays: Orelvis Martinez, SS/3B (No. 2/MLB No. 88) 
The Jays have been big believers in Martinez’s power bat since signing him for $3.5 million back in July 2018, and while it’s been a roller-coaster career at times, the right-handed slugger is trending back up after finishing with 28 total homers in 2023 and finishing with a .263/.340/.507 line over 55 games as a 21-year-old at Triple-A Buffalo. Martinez is trending toward the third-base corner, where he could be an option for Toronto in the first half of ’24.

Orioles: Samuel Basallo, C/1B (No. 5/MLB No. 46)
After years of sitting out of the Latin American market, the Orioles jumped back in and made a big splash by signing Basallo for $1.3 million in January 2021, the largest bonus ever given by the Orioles, at the time, to an international prospect. He’s making it seem like a bargain, rushing up the Top 100 and the organizational ladder, hitting his way to Double-A as a teenager in 2023 and finishing with a combined .313/.402/.551 line for the season.

Rays: Junior Caminero, 3B/SS (No. 1/MLB No. 6) 
Originally signed by Cleveland in July 2019, Caminero was moved to the Rays two years later in a deal for Tobias Myers and hasn’t looked back since. Under Tampa Bay’s tutelage, he’s become one of the Minors’ premier power hitters, having hit 31 homers while slugging .591 over 117 games at High-A and Double-A in his age-19 season last summer. Caminero earned a late-season cup of coffee with the big club to end ’23 and needs to find a spot somewhere on Tampa Bay’s infield, but this type of high-ceiling talent should create his own space in the season ahead.

Red Sox: Ceddane Rafaela, OF/SS (No. 3/MLB No. 72)
The most versatile defensive prospect in the game, Rafaela is a plus-plus center fielder, a plus shortstop and has dazzled elsewhere with his combination of quickness, instincts and arm strength. Signed for $10,000 out of Curacao in 2017, he has an aggressive approach that yields surprising power for a 5-foot-9, 165-pounder and batted .292/.339/.499 with 22 homers and 39 steals between Double-A, Triple-A and Boston in 2023.

Yankees: Jasson Domínguez, OF (No. 2/MLB No. 74)
Hyped more than any international prospect ever, Domínguez signed for $5.1 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2019, reached the Majors at age 20 last September and homered four times in eight games before injuring his left (non-throwing) elbow and requiring Tommy John surgery. He has the upside of at least plus power with otherwise solid tools across the board, and he hit .265/.373/.441 with 19 homers and 41 steals between Double-A, Triple-A and New York.


Guardians: Brayan Rocchio, SS/2B (No. 1/MLB No. 47)
Known as "The Professor" for his high baseball IQ, Rocchio signed for $125,000 out of Venezuela in 2017 and made his big league debut last May. A switch-hitter who offers good bat-to-ball skills and quality defense at shortstop, he batted .275/.355/.406 with seven homers and 25 steals between Triple-A and Cleveland.

Royals: Diego Hernandez, OF (No. 15)
Hernandez dislocated his right shoulder in Spring Training and struggled offensively upon his return in mid-June, especially when it came to power (.245/.302/.290 over 269 plate appearances at Double-A). The 23-year-old got extra playing time in the Dominican Winter League in October, November and December, and the farther he gets from the shoulder issue, the better he could get with the bat. His plus-plus speed, impressive center-field defense and strong arm would all be useful in Kansas City whenever the bat proves ready.

Tigers: Hao-Yu Lee, 2B (No. 8)
Two years after he signed with the Phillies out of Taiwan for $570,000, Lee joined the Tigers in a Deadline deal for Michael Lorenzen this past July. The right-handed-hitting second baseman’s profile is driven by his bat between his clean swing, ability to work a walk and burgeoning power. Affected by a quad strain after the trade, Lee looked closer to himself in the Arizona Fall League and could push for the Minors’ upper levels this summer during his first full season as a Tiger.

Twins: Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF (No. 3/MLB No. 48)
One of the top players in the 2019-20 international signing class, Rodriguez got $2.75 million to sign with the Twins. He really jumped on the prospect map in 2022, with a 1.044 OPS in 47 games in his full-season debut, but a torn meniscus ended that season in June. He was slowed by injury to start 2023, but shook off a rough start to post a .927 OPS from June 1.

White Sox: Edgar Quero, C (No. 3/MLB No. 81)
Acquired along with lefty pitching prospect Ky Bush in the trade that sent Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo López to the Angels last July, Quero is a switch-hitting catcher who's more advanced offensively than defensively at this point. The Cuban won Single-A California League MVP honors in 2022 before making the jump to Double-A last season at age 20, when he hit .255/.380/.351.


Angels: Nelson Rada, OF (No. 3)
Still only 16 when he signed with the Angels in January 2022 for $1.85 million, Rada made a strong first impression by hitting .311/.446/.439 during his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League after signing. The Angels felt his contact-first approach was solid enough to handle a jump to full-season ball in 2023, and he responded with a .276/.395/.346 line and 55 steals while not turning 18 until the end of August. He has a 16.6 percent K rate and a 13.3 percent BB rate in his young career.

Astros: Luis Baez, OF (No. 2)
Baez landed the largest bonus ($1.3 million) in the Astros' 2022 international class when he turned pro out of the Dominican Republic. He fits the right-field profile with his plus raw power and arm strength, and he batted .248/.357/.481 with 11 homers in 58 games during his U.S. debut between Rookie ball and Single-A.

A’s: Luis Morales, RHP (No. 5)
Thought to be the top pitching prospect in the 2023 international signing class, Morales signed a year ago for $3 million after starring in Cuba’s Serie Nacional before defecting. While understandably brought into pro ball slowly, his electric stuff allowed the right-hander to start his career in the Dominican Summer League and end it with High-A Lansing. He has a four-pitch mix, with a fastball that sits upper-90s and high-spin breaking stuff.

Mariners: Gabriel Gonzalez, OF (No. 3/MLB No. 66)
Since signing in Feb. 2021 for $1.3 million, the Venezuelan has made a strong impression with the bat. He posted an OPS of .892 in the DSL the summer after he signed, then hit his way to full-season ball in 2022, finishing with a combined .321/.421/.468 line. In 2023, he crushed it with Single-A Modesto (.933 OPS) and struggled with a move up a level, but that seems to be a pattern, so don’t be surprised to see him master High-A this season and move on.

Rangers: Sebastian Walcott, SS (No. 3/MLB No. 62)
Some evaluators believe that Walcott could become the best player ever from the Bahamas, and his lofty ceiling earned him a $3.2 million bonus in 2023. He projects to have well above-average power and arm strength and reached Single-A at age 17 during a pro debut in which he hit .246/.335/.471 with seven homers and 12 steals in 48 games between three stops.


Braves: Ambioris Tavarez, SS (No. 8)
The Braves only had half of their normal bonus pool to work with in January 2021 as they were just emerging from the penalty box following their signing violations on the international market. They gave a large amount of that bonus ($1.5 million) to Tavarez, who still has considerable upside despite being slowed by thoracic outlet surgery on his non-throwing arm in 2022 and a full-season debut in 2023 that showed he has a lot of work to do on his approach (40.8 percent K rate).

Marlins: Victor Mesa Jr., OF (No. 6)
The son of legendary outfielder Victor Mesa -- Cuba's version of Rickey Henderson -- Victor Jr. signed with the Marlins along with his brother Victor Victor in 2018, receiving $1 million to his sibling's $5.25 million. Victor Jr. has developed into a far better prospect and began to grow into some power in 2023, when he batted .242/.308/.412 with 18 homers and 16 steals in Double-A.

Mets: Luisangel Acuña, SS/2B (No. 1/MLB No. 38)
The Mets covered $35 million of Max Scherzer’s remaining contract to pick up Acuña as the prospect return in last year’s Deadline blockbuster. Originally signed by Texas for $425,000 in July 2018, the reigning NL MVP’s younger brother is a career .289 hitter in the Minor Leagues and has stolen 40-plus bags in three straight seasons, topping out with 57 thefts between a pair of Double-A clubs in 2023. While the power still needs to come, the 21-year-old could be the future of second base in Queens.

Nationals: Cristhian Vaquero, OF (No. 9)
With a $4.925 million bonus two years ago, Vaquero signed the biggest bonus of anyone in the 2022 class on the strength of his five-tool potential. He reached Single-A Fredericksburg last season in his age-18 campaign after hitting .279/.410/.393 with 15 steals in 42 games in his stateside debut in the Florida Complex League. Vaquero continues to show plus-plus speed and strong walk rates but will need to start turning his power potential into in-game pop before long.

Phillies: Starlyn Caba, SS (No. 13)
Caba was one of the best shortstops in the 2023 international signing class and the Phillies were able to add him to the fold last January for $3 million. You never want to give too much weight to a debut in the hitting-friendly DSL, but the organization is excited about what Caba might do stateside this year. The switch-hitter hit .301 with a .423 OBP and 16 steals in 38 games last summer and showed strong potential at shortstop before a left elbow injury ended his debut early.


Brewers: Jackson Chourio, OF (No. 1/MLB No. 2) 
The $82 million man is the highest-ranked international player on this list and for good reason. Chourio, who originally signed with Milwaukee as a shortstop for $1.8 million in January 2021, has put himself on the precipice of the Majors with one of the best power-speed combos in prospectdom. His 22 homers and 44 steals in 2023 famously made him one of only five teenagers to enjoy a 20-40 season in the Minors since 1958 and the first since Ronald Acuña Jr. in 2017. Even with a loaded Brewers outfield, he should be penciled in as the club’s Opening Day center fielder just a few weeks after his 20th birthday.

Cardinals: Leonardo Bernal, C (No. 10)
St. Louis signed Bernal for $680,000 out of Panama in January 2021 and got aggressive with him a year later, jumping him over the stateside complex league and sending him straight to Single-A Palm Beach for his age-18 season. The switch-hitter repeated the Florida State League last year and saw his walk rate more than double from 7.0 percent in 2022 to 15.2 percent in 2023. He’s considered a strong defender behind the dish, and that gives him a solid floor as he’s set to move out of the Sunshine State in ’24.

Cubs: Kevin Alcántara, OF (No. 4/MLB No. 71)
Alcántara was the Cubs' prize in the trade that sent Anthony Rizzo to the Yankees in 2021 and offers a lot of intrigue as a 6-foot-6 athlete with the potential for solid tools across the board. The Dominican spent most of last season in High-A, batting .286/.341/.466 with 12 homers and 15 steals in 95 games, and also saw action in Double-A and the Arizona Fall League.

Pirates: Tsung-Che Cheng, SS (No. 17)
Signed for $380,000 in 2019, Cheng is a Taiwanese middle infielder who has flown under the radar as more of a high floor kind of player. But he hit his way to Double-A before he turned 22 years old and has hit .279/.375/.445 in his pro career, stealing 59 bags in the last two seasons combined and showing he has the ability to play shortstop at the big league level.

Reds: Noelvi Marte, 3B/SS (No. 1/MLB No. 23)
Originally signed by the Mariners for $1.55 million when the 2018-19 international signing period opened, he was red-hot in High-A in July of 2022 when he was sent to the Reds in the Luis Castillo trade. He played his way across two levels of the Minors and made a strong first impression in Cincinnati during his big league debut in 2023, hitting .316/.366/.456, ending the year with a sizable hitting streak and showing comfort at a new position (third) while also helping out at short when needed.


D-backs: Yu-Min Lin, LHP (No. 4)
Undersized at 5-foot-11 with a fastball that sometimes only sits in the upper-80s, Lin – a $525,000 signing in December 2021 – is one of the most fascinating Minor League southpaws because of his offspeed pitches and the rising action on that heater. His low-80s changeup gets a lot of swing-and-miss, and his low-80s slider and mid-70s curveball can each flash plus. It’s a kitchen-sink approach that has helped Lin fan 231 batters over 177 2/3 career Minor League innings.

Dodgers: Diego Cartaya, C (No. 3/MLB No. 56)
MLB Pipeline's top-rated prospect in the 2018 international class, Cartaya has earned Salvador Perez comparisons since signing for $2.5 million out of Venezuela. His best attributes are his plus power potential and arm strength, but his stock has taken a hit after he batted .189/.278/.379 with 19 homers in 93 games in Double-A last season.

Giants: Marco Luciano, SS (No. 2/MLB No. 26)
Luciano's well-above-average bat speed and power made him the most enticing middle-infield prospect in the 2018 international crop and earned him a $2.6 million bonus out of the Dominican Republic. A stress fracture in his back and a hamstring injury hampered him in 2023, when he hit .224/.334/.425 with 15 homers in 88 games between Double-A, Triple-A and San Francisco.

Padres: Ethan Salas, C (No. 1/MLB No. 5)
Salas joined the Padres for $5.6 million as the top prospect in the 2023 international class and still managed to beat expectations in his first season, skipping over the complex leagues completely and jumping from Single-A to High-A to Double-A as a 17-year-old. He draws strong reviews for his defensive work as a catcher, both with the glove and arm, and his hit and power tools project as above-average. San Diego is notorious for getting aggressive with its prospects, sometimes to the team's detriment, but it’s seemingly possible Salas could be in the bigs as a teenager.

Rockies: Adael Amador, SS (No. 1/MLB No. 21)
Amador was the biggest acquisition for the Rockies when the 2019-20 international signing period opened, getting $1.5 million to sign in July 2019. He made his pro debut stateside in 2021, hitting .299/.394/.445 in the ACL, then followed that up in 2022 with an .860 OPS in full-season ball. He was raking to a .304/.391/.514 line in High-A when he was shelved with a broken hamate. Amador did make it back near the end of the 2023 season and got his feet wet in Double-A, a level he could take by storm this year now that he’s 100 percent healthy.