2024 International Prospect Rankings and Scouting Reports

2024 International Prospect Rankings and Scouting Reports


Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Monday is the first day of the new international signing period, so I’ve expanded and updated my evaluations of players from the class. An overview of the rules that govern signing international amateurs can be found on MLB’s glossary here, while more thorough and detailed documentation can be found starting on page 316 of the CBA and page 38 of the Official Professional Baseball Rules Book. Players have until December 15 to sign before this signing period closes.

Scouting reports, tool grades, and projected signing teams and bonuses for just shy of 50 players from the 2024 class can now be viewed over on The Board. Because the International Players tab has an apples and oranges mix of older pros from Asian leagues and soon-to-be first-year players, there is no explicit ranking for this amateur class on The Board. However, I’ve stacked the class with a ranking in the table below, and as usual, that ranking will live on the International Players dropdown of The Board after most of these guys have finished signing in the coming weeks.

Regular readers already know that the FV grades are more meaningful than the ordinal rankings, and that you can argue about how to line up players with the same FV grade in all kinds of different ways. I like to use theoretical draft position as a barometer by which to grade international amateurs. Scouting and comparing international players’ tools and athleticism to those of recent and upcoming domestic amateurs helps me to triangulate approximately where they’d go in a given draft, and assign them an FV based on that approximation. Players with a 40+ FV grade or above tend to be prospects who I think would go in the first two rounds of a draft, while the teenage 40 FV prospects are the sort I’d ballpark just after the second round.

As I’ve honed a process for this over the years, my first step has become to source rumored bonus amounts, often hopping on the phone with people who are involved with international players or scouting to see who they’ve heard will be receiving $1 million or more. This is also when I start to collect biographical data like position, date of birth, handedness, and measurables. Once I have a fairly complete picture of the players expected to garner meaningful bonuses, I start to make more scouting and evaluation-centric calls and inquiries to augment the initial, bonus-based foundation of the list. Combine that with my in-person notes (rare in this market) and supplementary video analysis (more common than ever thanks to encrypted file sharing and players’ social media), plus one last pass at all the bonuses, and things are fully baked.

Of course, there are some holes left open by doing it this way. Chiefly, there are definitely players below my bonus threshold who are talented enough to be on this list, but I simply don’t know about them yet. Aside from team personnel who closely monitor their own guys’ progress as signing day approaches, I haven’t found a way to capture those pop-up prospects, and obviously the team personnel route creates issues with objectivity and telegraphing sources. For now, it’s up to all but a few of the $700,000 and below bonus guys to separate themselves later this year when they start playing pro ball.

Every player who I believe is set to receive a bonus of $1 million or more (aside from a handful of players rumored to have failed MLB’s age and identification check) is included in this ranking, along with a smattering of players with high six-figure bonuses, guys who emerged as favorites of scouts or of mine throughout the process. Expected bonus amounts have been sourced via scout and executive word of mouth across the past 18 months or so, and then cross-checked in the week leading up to publication. There are a couple of bonus amounts below where my sources were not in exact agreement. In those cases, the gap is typically only $100,000-$200,000, but I’ve put an asterisk on those amounts below to indicate the imprecision. I’m going to talk more about early verbal bonus agreements, the byproduct of me trying to source them, and more after the ranking table and some thoughts on the class:

2024 International Amateur Prospects

Rank
Name
Pos
Age
Proj Team
FV
Proj Bonus
Country

1
Leodalis De Vries
SS
17.3
SDP
50
$4,400,000
Dominican Republic

2
Emil Morales
SS
17.3
LAD
45+
$2,400,000
Dominican Republic

3
Adriel Radney
CF
16.6
ARI
45+
$1,850,000
Dominican Republic

4
Fernando Cruz
SS
17.2
CHC
45
$4,000,000
Dominican Republic

5
Victor Hurtado
RF
16.6
WSN
45
$2,700,000
Dominican Republic

6
Adolfo Sanchez
RF
17.3
CIN
45
$2,800,000
Dominican Republic

7
Jose Perdomo
3B
17.3
ATL
45
$5,000,000
Venezuela

8
Robert Arias
CF
17.3
CLE
45
$1,900,000
Dominican Republic

9
Daiber De Los Santos
SS
17.3
MIN
40+
$1,900,000*
Dominican Republic

10
Yandel Ricardo
3B
17.3
KCR
40+
$2,400,000
Cuba

11
Jorge Quintana
SS
16.8
MIL
40+
$1,700,000
Venezuela

12
Ashly Andujar
SS
16.5
COL
40+
$1,300,000
Dominican Republic

13
Naibel Mariano
SS
17.3
CIN
40+
$1,650,000*
Dominican Republic

14
Dawel Joseph
CF
16.7
SEA
40+
$3,500,000
Dominican Republic

15
Luis Cova
CF
16.9
MIA
40+
$1,400,000
Venezuela

16
Francisco Vilorio
RF
17.2
NYY
40+
$1,700,000
Dominican Republic

17
Yovanny Rodriguez
C
17.2
NYM
40+
$2,800,000*
Dominican Republic

18
Yunior Arias
RF
17.3
TOR
40
$900,000
Dominican Republic

19
Belfi Rivera
CF
17.1
ARI
40
$1,800,000
Dominican Republic

20
Jhonaykel Ugarte
3B
16.8
KCR
40
$1,300,000
Dominican Republic

21
Emilio Sanchez
SS
16.7
BAL
40
$1,700,000
Dominican Republic

22
Abdiel Feliz
SS
16.9
PIT
40
$1,200,000*
Dominican Republic

23
Luis Peña
SS
17.2
MIL
40
$850,000
Dominican Republic

24
Humberto Cruz
SP
17.1
SDP
40
$700,000
Mexico

25
Jhonny Level
2B
16.8
SFG
40
$1,300,000
Venezuela

26
Richard Matic
3B
16.5
NYY
40
$800,000
Dominican Republic

27
Luis Rives
RF
19.2
HOU
40
$1,000,000
Cuba

28
Angel Brachi
2B
17.0
TBR
40
$800,000
Venezuela

29
Joswa Lugo
SS
17.0
LAA
40
$2,800,000
Dominican Republic

30
Paulino Santana
RF
17.2
TEX
40
$1,500,000*
Dominican Republic

31
Jose Ramos
CF
17.3
OAK
40
$1,200,000
Venezuela

32
Leonardo Pineda
CF
16.7
TBR
40
$1,750,000
Dominican Republic

33
Edgar Montero
3B
17.1
OAK
40
$1,200,000
Dominican Republic

34
Jesus Made
2B
16.7
MIL
35+
$950,000
Dominican Republic

35
Luis Manuel León
SS
17.5
STL
35+
$1,000,000
Cuba

36
Franklin Rojas
C
16.8
TOR
35+
$1,100,000
Venezuela

37
Branneli Franco
SP
16.9
STL
35+
$800,000
Dominican Republic

38
Erick Matos
SP
17.0
OAK
35+
$700,000
Dominican Republic

39
Jalvin Arias
RF
17.3
PHI
35+
$1,400,000
Dominican Republic

40
Angel Feliz
3B
17.2
WSN
35+
$1,800,000
Dominican Republic

41
Stiven Martinez
RF
16.4
BAL
35+
$950,000
Dominican Republic

42
Eduardo Beltre
RF
17.3
MIN
35+
$1,500,000
Dominican Republic

43
Brailyn Brazoban
RF
18.0
PIT
35+
$2,000,000
Dominican Republic

44
Edward Lantigua
LF
17.2
NYM
35+
$950,000
Dominican Republic

45
Nestor Miranda
1B
17.9
DET
35+
$1,500,000
Dominican Republic

46
Yohendry Sanchez
C
17.2
SFG
35+
$1,400,000
Venezuela

47
Cesar Yanquiel Hernandez
OF
20.7
HOU
35+
$1,700,000
Cuba

48
Eduardo Herrera
3B
17.2
CHW
35+
$1,800,000
Venezuela

Note that Leodalis De Vries is in a tier of his own atop the class. I had a (non-Padres) scouting executive tell me I should quit this exercise and just write a profile about De Vries, who is one of the more talented prospects to come along in the last five to 10 years. The way De Vries’ reports have trended over the last year suggests he may end up at second base eventually, but the hit and power combo is going to clear that bar pretty easily. It’s uncommon for me to have a new international prospect on the Top 100 list straight away, but De Vries’ reports are strong enough that I’m compelled to have him toward the back of the list.

In the next tier down is infielder Emil Morales and outfielder Adriel Radney, the two other players in the class who have a shot to do a little bit of everything and develop into five-tool players. They’re players with a fairly solid hit tool track record — insofar as a player can have one at this stage — and considerable power projection because of their size, but each also has a good shot at remaining at a premium position; in Morales’ case, he could perhaps be a very good defender at a second-tier position (third base). Once you get past the top three players in the class, the rest have at least one gap in their skill set or profile, be it a perceived cap on their offensive ceiling (Jose Perdomo, Fernando Cruz) or the fact that they’re buried way down the defensive spectrum (Adolfo Sanchez, Victor Hurtado). Those 45 FV prospects (basically a mid-to-late first round draft grade) will be fantastic and exciting additions to their new clubs, but considerations like this are how the FV layers are made.

There again aren’t many pitchers on the list because it’s rare for teams to funnel seven figures worth of pool space into arms. More and more, teams are signing older, slightly more developed pitchers on the international market with $10,000 and $20,000 bonuses. Teams once mostly targeted younger pitchers, who struggled to develop at the rate the CBA expects them to. That allowed other teams to add pitchers discounted because of their age en masse and then develop them with modern methodologies; this was a boon for Houston, among other clubs. Now it’s a more common approach, so common that Japanese teams have also become active in that segment of the market and are trying to outbid MLB clubs that have gotten used to handing out $10,000 bonuses to 20-year-old arms.

Readers will want to comb through the scouting blurbs on The Board because in some cases, I’ve provided a timeline for some of the changes in player-to-team attachments that I have in my notes from working on this signing class. Despite it being against the rules, most teams enter into verbal agreements with players and their trainers/agents many months, and sometimes as many as three or four years, before they are supposed to. When a team and a player come to a verbal agreement on a bonus, other MLB teams are alerted to the agreement, usually by the player’s trainer informing them that they aren’t going to sign the player. Teams keep track of rival clubs’ bonus allocations both to gauge the market and to assess the total amount of money still available, as well as how much each team has promised to players. This is largely how I’m able to efficiently collect bonus information.

As you check in on these players and do some basic math, it becomes clear that some teams have committed more bonus money than they have to spend. Sometimes a rival team has swooped in with more money for the player and their commitment changes, and sometimes the player has failed a physical, but concerningly, there seem to be a handful of teams that habitually over-commit pool space and then triage prospects later in the process, nixing whichever verbal deals they see as the least favorable. Teams will sometimes renege on their agreements if they think a player has regressed, or if one of their other commits has progressed enough that the team feels compelled to up their offer to prevent another club from swooping in with more money “late” in process. Invariably, some players end up signing for less than the initial amount they agreed to, with no recourse. If I check in with a source who tells me Johnny Shortstop has a verbal deal with the Portland Roses for $2 million, and then six months later I’m told he has a verbal for $1.7 million with the Carolina Reapers, either I was initially misinformed or something happened behind the scenes that caused the change. Across the last three years, as my prep for international coverage has taken on this rhythm, it has become clear there are a few teams whose agreements appear to be less binding than others.

As teams have become aware that other clubs are doing this, some of them have begun to squirrel away money until later in the process so they have the bonus space to approach players whose deals have fallen through when they re-enter the market. In a couple cases this year, players who were allegedly sent back to the market ended up receiving more than their initial commitment because of the supply/demand dynamics at play. Most clubs frown upon breaking verbal agreements (as does your author) even as they all feel free to break the rules around early deals. I do not have an update on the court case outlined in this story, which could set a relevant precedent around this stuff. There has also been no new progress made toward the implementation of an international draft that would parallel the process by which domestic amateurs make their way to pro ball. Such a process would serve as a way to curtail the practice of teams and players agreeing to verbal deals before players are eligible to sign and correct some of the other abuses of the current system, but it would also limit player agency, eliminating prospects’ ability to pick their employer.

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