The ultimate destination for international prospects is playing in the Major Leagues, and the first step toward reaching that goal is only a few months away.
The 2024 international signing period -- when prospects from across the globe become eligible to sign with big league clubs -- starts on Jan. 15 and ends Dec. 15.
It’s one of the most important dates in the baseball industry and its arrival is celebrated like a holiday.
Circle the date, baseball fans. Something special is coming and it involves a special group of young prospects.
Meet the top international prospects expected to sign when the period commences in January:
No. 1: Leo De Vries, SS (Dominican Republic)
Boasting an advanced hitting ability with the chance to hit for power from both sides, De Vries has a loose natural rhythm to his load, which gives evaluators the belief that he’ll deliver 20-homer power. Advanced for his age when it comes to plate discipline, De Vries takes his walks and displays plus pitch recognition.
De Vries is a smooth defender at short and has the intangibles to stick at the position long-term. With an above-average glove and arm, his 6-foot-2 frame lends credence to the thought that he could man any infield position as he continues to develop physically. With recorded times of 4.2 seconds from home-to-first and 6.7 seconds in a 60-yard dash, his plus running grade should allow him to impact the game both on the basepaths and with the glove. More »
No. 2: Paulino Santana, OF (Dominican Republic)
Scouts laud Santana’s baseball acumen and aptitude for the game, as well as his mature approach and the fact that he is fully bilingual. Santana has received Julio Rodríguez comps both on and off the field and trains with Charlie Nova in his hometown of Santo Domingo.
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, as he has shown brightest during in-game action. His 6-foot-2 frame boasts the fast-twitch reactions that have many believing he could consistently hit for both average and extra bases as he grows. More »
No. 3: Jose Perdomo, SS (Venezuela)
Perdomo’s bat-to-ball skills are above average, and he ranks among the best hitting prospects in the class. He has a good feel for the strike zone and his swing continues to improve. With plus runner potential, Perdomo could be a threat on the basepaths in the future. On defense, Perdomo is a fundamentally sound shortstop with enough range and arm strength to remain at the position as he makes his way through the Minor Leagues. More »
No. 4: Fernando Cruz, SS (Dominican Republic)
Known as a hitter capable of spraying the ball to all fields due to his tremendously strong hands and forearms, the strength in Cruz’s swing allows him to hit to the opposite field as if he were a left-handed batter. With an easy load and bat speed in spades, his sound offensive approach portends to lend itself to 20-25 home run power as he matures. Despite being known as an aggressive swinger, he has an advanced feel for the barrel.
An alert defender with a quick first step and an above-average arm, Cruz has the look and tools to hold down the shortstop position in the long-term. His 6-foot, 180-pound frame is muscular and lean with little body fat, aiding in him already grading out as a plus runner who can impact the game both with the glove and on the basepaths. More »
No. 5: Adolfo Sanchez, SS (Dominican Republic)
The hard-hitting outfielder uses a mechanically sound swing to drive the ball with authority to all fields. He features a slightly upward swinging motion and uses it to spray the ball into the gaps. He is a bit wiry right now, but his power is expected to grow as he matures and fills into his body.
Defensively, scouts have noted that Sanchez has good reaction times and takes good routes to fly balls. Given his range, ability to get a good jump, and plus arm strength potential, Sanchez could stick in center field, though transferring to right field should be seamless if he’s moved there. More »
Thirty-nine of the players on the 2023 Top 50 International Prospects list are from the Dominican Republic. There are 10 prospects from Venezuela and one from Curacao. Position-wise, there are 25 infielders, 15 outfielders, three catchers, and two pitchers.
International signing rules, spending
The pool breakdown is as follows:
The D-backs, Guardians, Orioles, Padres, Pirates, Rockies and Royals received a Competitive Balance Pick in Round B of the Draft and received $7,114,80. Teams with a Competitive Balance Pick in Round A (Athletics, Brewers, Mariners, Marlins, Rays, Reds, Tigers and Twins) each received $6,520,000.
Eight teams (Astros, Braves, Dodgers, Giants, Mets, Nationals, Red Sox and White Sox) have a $5,284,000 base signing pool. The Angels, Blue Jays, Cardinals and Cubs each forfeited $500,000 from their pools for signing players who had rejected qualifying offers -- Tyler Anderson, Chris Bassitt, Willson Contreras, and Dansby Swanson, respectively -- last offseason, so each has a pool of $5,152,000.
The Rangers, Padres, Phillies and Yankees each lost $1,000,000 for signing the following players who rejected qualifying offers -- Nathan Eovaldi and Jacob deGrom (TEX), Xander Bogaerts (SD), Trea Turner (PHI) and Carlos Rodon (NYY). The base signing pool for each of those four teams is $4,652,200.
The forfeited monies are redistributed to the other clubs.
Teams will be allowed to trade international bonus slots during this signing period starting Jan. 15.
Who is eligible?
There are guidelines for signing prospects. 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, 2006, and Aug. 31, 2007, 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.