The start of the international commitment period, the glorious time on the baseball calendar when prospects from around the world sign up for big league teams and take their first step towards fulfilling their major league dreams, is only a few months away.
The start of the period no longer falls on July 2nd, but it was never the actual day on the calendar anyway. It was always about what the date symbolizes and what it means to the world.
For those interested from Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as from countries such as Australia, the Bahamas, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Curacao, Europe and more, signing an international contract means everything.
These are the top international prospects expected to sign in January when the signing phase for the 2021-2022 class begins.
Who are the top prospects?
Arias is the top contender in the class and has plus-arm potential. His throws are precise and effortless, and he is always able to make them. He also shows good footwork with soft hands and above average reach.
On the plate, he shows above-average racket-to-ball skills and an awareness of the hit zone. He shows good record discipline and doesn’t swing and miss often. It shows strength from both sides of the plate, especially the right side. There is good opposing field strength from the left, and the overall package could develop into a plus-plus hitter. The Yankees are the favorites to sign him.
Vaquero was originally a left-handed bat, but after leaving Cuba he learned to switch, which resulted in improved pitch detection and confidence on the record. At 6 feet 3 and nearly 190 pounds, he’s a physical specimen with tons of raw strength and power. He can cover ground in midfield, shows a strong arm and has the chance to be a plus defender in this position. He plays hard with a lot of energy and shows a lot of natural instinct in training and play. The Nationals are favorites to sign him.
On the record, Cabrera shows an advanced approach with advanced pitch detection. It sprays hard line drives all over the field, holds up well through the hit zone and creates backspin. It already shows gap power and is on the way to plus power in the future.
On the defensive he has soft hands, shows good footwork and the kind of range that makes him at least an average shortstop. There is a chance that he could switch to the third base if he continues to grow and develop, but he predicts he will have enough offensive firepower to make the switch. The Reds are the favorites to sign him.
On the plate, he already shows solid racket-to-ball skills, an advanced approach, and an understanding of the hit zone. He exhibits line drive power, and more power is expected to come as he develops and his body matures.
On defense, Bergolla shows good footwork, soft hands and an arm strong enough to hold him in position as he makes his way through the minor leagues. He has solid reach and good baseball instincts. He has been recognized for his baseball IQ and awareness on both sides of the ball. He is the son of former major league player William Bergolla Sr., an infielder who has spent most of his career in the Red system and with various teams in the Venezuelan Winter League. The Phillies are favorites to take Bergolla Jr.
In three years with Cuba’s Serie Nacional, he hit .305 and slug .487 with nine homers. He lined up for Holguin in 2018-19, allowing a run in 3 1/3 innings, all in relief. In addition, Colás finished .289 / .389 / .533 in 54 at-bats in 2019, his third and final season for Santiago in the Cuban Nacional series.
Colás is currently training in the Dominican Republic and is expected to play winter ball for the Estrellas Orientales under coach and former major league player Fernando Tatis Sr. The White Sox are the favorite for his signing.
25 of the players on the list of Top 50 International Prospects 2021 are from the Dominican Republic. There are 15 interested parties from Venezuela, four from Cuba, two from Colombia, two from Panama and one each from the Bahamas and Mexico. In terms of position, there are 26 infielder, 16 outfielder, two pitchers and six catchers. Athletes who play in the middle, more precisely either in the shortstop or in the center, are generally the most desirable candidates in the international market. However, the pitching and catching prospects, especially from Venezuela, have increased in recent years.
International signature rules, issues
Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association signed a contract in March 2020 relating to the international signing phase during the pandemic. The international signature period 2021-2022 should start on January 15, 2022 and last until December 15, 2022. It is the second year in a row that the period is scheduled to start in January.
These are the international bonus pools for the 2120-22 signature period: Clubs that received a Competitive Balance Pick in Round B of the Rule 4 Draft (Cardinals, D-Backs, Indians, Orioles, Padres, Pirates, Rockies and Royals) a pool of $ 6,262,600, while clubs that received a competitive balance pick in Round A of the Rule 4 Draft (Brewers, Marlins, Rays, Reds, Tigers, and Twins) received $ 5,721,500. The teams lost money after crossing the luxury tax threshold and hiring a major league free agent who turned down a qualifying offer.
The base signing pool for the Angels, Astros, Athletics, Blue Jays, Braves, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Mariners, Mets, Nationals, Phillies, Rangers, Red Sox, White Sox, and Yankees is $ 5,179,700.
Teams are also not allowed to trade international bonus slots in ’21.
There are guidelines for signing prospects. An international player can sign with a major league team between January 15th and December 15th. He must be 16 years old before he signs, and 17 before September 1st of the following year – practically this means players born between September 1st, 2004 and August 31st, 2005 are eligible in the coming year Signing period. Players must pre-register with Major League Baseball in order to sign.