2023 International Signing Period

Paywalled article from BA says 15-20 infielders in the upcoming signing period who are expected to sign for at least $1MM. Shortstop Camilo Diaz out of the DR is one of those with a bonus in the $2MM range. Lots of bat speed, plus runner and plus plus arm says the report. Currently 6’2" 165 lbs. Astros the expected signing team.

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Previously posted in another thread but wanted to consolidate the expected '23 signings in one thread…

With the new signing period opening up in a month, another name apparently being connected with the Astros: DR outfielder Emil Valencia. Both MLB Pipeline and Longenhagen at FG suggest Houston will sign the Dominican player with the supposedly strong hit tool. Longenhagen expects Valencia to also receive a bonus in the $2MM range.

MLB Pipeline has Valencia at #21 on their Top 50 International Prospects for 2023. Camilo Diaz (see first post above) is at #17.

If the reporting is accurate, then Diaz, Valencia and the Cuban pitcher Ruben Menes would eat up the vast bulk of the Astros’ 2023 signing pool. For what that’s worth anyway–still plenty of room presumably for lots of $10K and $20K signings of overlooked pitching talent.

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So add a new name to the expected signings on Sunday…

Baseball America updated their list of the top 30 international prospects for the upcoming signing period and at #29 is 16 year old Dominican shortstop German Ramirez. The way BA ranks their list is based on expected signing bonus (without actually specifying the amount of the bonus). At #30 on the list is Emil Valencia. That leads me to believe the bonus on Valencia will be closer to $1MM with Ramirez signing for a similar amount. So with Camilo Diaz at #19 on the BA list the Astros are expected to hand out 3 of the top 30 bonuses in the class. Latest reporting from Longenhagen at Fangraphs says Diaz bonus is closer to $2.5MM.

Per Kenny Van Doren, the expected signing bonus for German Ramirez is $1.2M

Crazy, based on team’s success in mining international talent, but I don’t remember the last time a high paid international signee has panned out for us. Anyone? Even Leon (huge signing bonus) is looking 50/50 at this point.

Hope this kid bucks the trend.

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Going back 12 years or so (roughly the beginning of 2011), there have been 14 million-dollar plus signings by the Astros. Five were released–Ariel Ovando, Ronny Rafael, Elian Rodriguez, Anibal Sierra and Yorbin Ceuta. Three were traded–Franklin Perez, Gilberto Celestino and Cionel Perez. F. Perez and Celestino were key pieces in the Verlander and Pressly trades so you’d have to rate them successes no matter what either player has or hasn’t done at the big league level. One elected minor league free agency before joining the indy leagues–Miguelangel Sierra. Five are still in the org with two trending down (Freudis Nova and Angel Macuare) and three unknowns (Dauri Lorenzo, Pedro Leon and Luis Baez). Even assuming all five bust, out of the 14 you’ve netted (at least in part) multiple seasons of JV and Pressly. Maybe I’m taking the contrarian view but I have a hard time characterizing those 14 signings as collectively being unsuccessful. But perhaps that’s just me.

“kids”. Diaz, Ramirez and Valencia.

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You’re not alone.

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Cuban pitcher Ruben Menes (see second post in thread) ended up signing with the Cardinals for $425K after the agreement with the Astros fell apart.

Astros scouts on the Big 3 per the press release…

Camilo Díaz is a tool-sy and dynamic shortstop with a plus arm and the athleticism to stay in the middle of the diamond, “ said Assistant Director International Scouting Raymon Sanchez. “He has a big, strong build with present raw power, and projects to hit in the middle of the order with HR/RBI production. Díaz has the potential to have well above average tools across the board, and we are excited to add him to our system.” $2.25MM

Germán Ramírez is a lanky and athletic infielder with the arm strength and range to play shortstop,” said International Scouting Director Brian Rodgers. “Germán makes consistent hard contact in games and continued to polish his hitting approach during our scouting process. A hard worker who endears himself to peers and baseball evaluators alike, Germán is another impressive prospect who we are excited to add to a talented and deep 2023 International Signing Class.” $1.2MM

Esmil Valencia is a medium-framed outfielder who does it all on the baseball field,” said Dominican Scouting Supervisor Alfredo Ulloa. “An above-average and explosive athlete, Esmil projects as a top-of-the-lineup hitter who can hit for average, power, and steal bases. An above-average defender, Esmil plays center field and shows a 70-grade arm on the 20-80 scouting scale. We are excited to add what we feel is one of the better international talents to our organization.” $1.1MM

With the reported $1.2MM bonus on German Ramirez (per Kenny Van Doren which I believe is an accurate number), these three combined for $4.55MM of the $5,284,000 total bonus pool. As I noted before, these are three of the Top 30 bonuses handed out this signing period.

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Those weights on those players look more typical to American kids than they did 8 to 10 years ago.

Revising my post above based on further information contained in this article from Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com

The Big 4 bonus guys signed today with comments on three of them by Astros scouts per the press release of today…

Camilo Díaz is a tool-sy and dynamic shortstop with a plus arm and the athleticism to stay in the middle of the diamond, “ said Assistant Director International Scouting Raymon Sanchez. “He has a big, strong build with present raw power, and projects to hit in the middle of the order with HR/RBI production. Díaz has the potential to have well above average tools across the board, and we are excited to add him to our system.” $2.25MM

Germán Ramírez is a lanky and athletic infielder with the arm strength and range to play shortstop,” said International Scouting Director Brian Rodgers. “Germán makes consistent hard contact in games and continued to polish his hitting approach during our scouting process. A hard worker who endears himself to peers and baseball evaluators alike, Germán is another impressive prospect who we are excited to add to a talented and deep 2023 International Signing Class.” $1.2MM

Esmil Valencia is a medium-framed outfielder who does it all on the baseball field,” said Dominican Scouting Supervisor Alfredo Ulloa. “An above-average and explosive athlete, Esmil projects as a top-of-the-lineup hitter who can hit for average, power, and steal bases. An above-average defender, Esmil plays center field and shows a 70-grade arm on the 20-80 scouting scale. We are excited to add what we feel is one of the better international talents to our organization.” $897.5K

Eduardo Perez is as noted above a 16 yr old outfielder from the Dominican listed at 6’4" 214 lbs. $797K.

Those four combined for $5,144,500 which is nearly all of the $5,284,000 bonus pool.

Accordingly, the total number of players likely to be signed in 2023 will be far fewer than normal. Though the Astros might be able to pad their total by signing guys for less than $10K (which if IIRC don’t count against your bonus pool), I don’t expect them to sign anything like the 57 they signed in '22. Consequently you might see only one DSL team this summer rather than two like last year.

Now 11 players signed with the additions of two Panamanian players–RHP Luis Aguilar and OF Ariel Lebron.

Per the BA signings tracker.

The # of signings currently stands at 14…

Camilo Diaz, SS, Dominican Republic $2.25MM
German Ramirez, SS, Dominican Republic $1.2MM
Esmil Valencia, OF, Dominican Republic $897.5K
Eduardo Perez, OF, Dominican Republic $797K
Eudy Liriano, RHP, Dominican Republic*
Joan Ogando, RHP, Dominican Republic*
Juan Sierra, OF, Dominican Republic*
Rafael Gonzalez, RHP, Dominican Republic*
Sandro Pereira, SS, Dominican Republic*
Luis Aguilar, RHP, Panama*
Ariel Lebron, OF, Panama*
Francisco Caldera, C, Venezuela*
Jesus Mujica, SS, Venezuela*
Manuel Mendoza, RHP, Venezuela*

*Bonus in five figures