clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

MLB International Prospects and where they will sign

With July 2 approaching quickly, which teams are gearing up to spend in the international free agent market?

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The international free agent market opens on July 2. With that deadline less than two months away, general managers are already gearing up to make their offers.

On their 2016 Prospect Watch, MLB.com has ranked the international free agents. Let's take a look at the teams rumored to be most-willing to commit to international free agents:

San Diego Padres

Of the top 10 international prospects according to MLB.com, the Padres are expected to sign three -- the most of any team. That starts with the number three ranked prospect, Luis Almanzar from the Dominican Republic. The 16-year old shortstop's athleticism is believed to make him a five-tool prospect.

The Padres seem especially proactive in the international prospect market, as they are also expected to sign Gabriel Arias and Jeison Rosario from the top 10. Even further, they're the likely destination of Jordy Barley, Justin Lopez, and Tirso Ornelas.

Like Almanzar, Arias is another shortstop prospect. At 16-years old, scouts prefer his fielding to Almanzar's. However, he isn't as gifted with speed. Rosario is an outfielder from the Dominican Republic. Turning 17 in October, scouts are still waiting for his power to develop a bit, but the contact is there.

It's a long time until we see these players in the majors, and we may never see them in a Padres uniform. However, A.J. Preller and the rest of the Padres front office seems to value international scouting heavily.

Atlanta Braves

The struggling Braves at least have their international scouting program going for them. They're the likely destination of the number one ranked international prospect, Kevin Maitan.

Maitan is already drawing unfair comparisons to Miguel Cabrera and -- the home town hero -- Chipper Jones. The 16-year old shortstop from Venezuela is a switch-hitter with power from both sides of the plate. His fielding is smooth, and he is only lacking in speed.

The Braves are also expected to land Abrahan Gutierrez, Yunior Severino, Yenci Pena, Livan Soto, and Juan Conteras. Gutierrez is a 16-year old catcher from Venezuela. His defensive abilities behind the plate elevate him while his hitting projects to be about average. Severino is a 16-year old switch-hitting shortstop and is believed to have a lot of potential.

Washington Nationals

Somewhat surprisingly, the Nationals look like favorites to sign a couple of the highly-touted international prospects. Namely, Luis Garcia, Yasel Antuna, and Jose Sanchez.

Garcia is a 15-year old shortstop from Dominican Republic and is the seventh-best prospect according to MLB.com. His fielding and athleticism projects to be above league average, while his contact rates at the plate have also impressed.

The other two are also shortstops. While Antuna comes from the Dominican Republic as well, Sanchez is from Venezuela. Both are believed to be impressive fielders with Antuna ranked slightly higher.

St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals are expected to sign at least two of the top 30 prospects. Jonathan Machado, who is ranked 10th, and Victor Garcia, who is ranked 12th.

Machado is a Cuban centerfielder with a ton of speed. The 17-year old draws comparisons to Kenny Lofton and Ichiro Suzuki. He can also play shortstop, though most scouts expect him to end up in centerfield, where his speed will help his defense.

Garcia is another outfield prospect, but the comparisons to Machado end there. What makes him an interesting prospect is his raw power, not his ability to field. The 16-year old Venezuelan projects to have above average power at the major league level.

Honorable mentions

The Miami Marlins are expected to make at least one signing of note: MLB.com's eighth-ranked prospect, Freudis Nova. The 16-year old shortstop is an all-around player, though could end up elsewhere as his fielding isn't necessarily his strongest asset.

The 11th-best prospect, David Garcia, is expected to sign with the Texas Rangers. Garcia is a 16-year old catcher from Venezuela with plus speed.

Both the Oakland Athletics and Milwaukee Brewers should also make a splash in the international markets. The two teams are expected to sign a pair each. The Athletics should get Yerdelius Vargas and Marcos Brito -- numbers 20 and 22 respectively -- while the Brewers should land Pablo Abreu and Jean Carlos Carmona -- numbers 29 and 30 respectively.

The rankings have five prospects without a clear favorite for a landing spot. That includes three of the top six prospects listed on there: Vladimir Gutierrez, Lazaro Armenteros, and Alfredo Rodriguez. With the international signing date drawing closer, expect teams to increase their involvement in the market. Teams like the Philadelphia Phillies should be expected to make strong pushes. The Cincinnati Reds -- who have heavily scouted Jordy Barley -- could also make an impression. The Toronto Blue Jays also hired a general manager -- Ross Atkins -- known for his Latin American scouting.