Detroit Tigers: International Prospects Possible Promise

(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /
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The Detroit Tigers have inroads for two prospects on MLB’s 2020 Top 30 International Prospect list. The development of the past few signings continues but Tigers fans are looking for a payoff. And soon.

Good news for you Detroit Tigers prospects fans. Yesterday, MLB Pipeline released its Top 30 International Prospect list. According to the list, the Tigers could land a pair of shortstops in Cristian Santana (13th overall) and Abel Bastidas (26th overall).

The writeups are strong for both players. Santana in the write-up gets comparisons to a young Jhonny Peralta, a former Tigers shortstop. Santana is a right-handed bat and as you can see in the video below, good repeatability in his swing mechanics and from this couch scout’s point of view, solid defense range that will probably grow as he gets more reps when he gets to instructional ball in Lakeland. Our own Jay Markle did a great job of writing up Santana a few weeks back. 

Abel Bastidas out of Venezuela is 6’2 and is a switch hitter.  He is praised for his high baseball IQ according to the write-up, draws comparison to another former Tiger, Carlos Guillen.  I could not find any video on Bastidas at the moment but I am sure by the time the signing period happens, we will see something pop up.

Detroit Continues to Catch Up

If you take a look at the last 10 years worth of international signings for the Tigers, there are a few players that never played a day in Detroit. The list includes the following:

  • Willy Adames IF (.254/.317/.418 20 HR 52 RBIs bWAR 4.2 in 2019)
  • David Paulino RHP (released by Toronto in 2018, problems staying healthy, a one-time top 100 prospect while in Houston, served a suspension for PEDs)
  • Domingo Leyba IF (.280/.367/.440 in 30 plate appearances for Arizona in 2019)

For Adames, I can’t pretend to be Mr. Hindsight on that. When he was traded to Tampa, the Tigers were getting David Price, one of the best starters on the planet at the time to stay in contention. Paulino was the player to be named later and in the case for Leyba, you get Shane Greene. Prospects are currency and in order to stay in contention, you have to use them when it is time to pull the trigger on a trade.

Al Avila has shown so far he is less likely to trade prospects than previous Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski and that’s fine, provided they will pay off.  Let’s take a look at the notable international July signings since 2016:

2016-2017:

Enrique Bautista OF  Dominican Republic (Released by the team)
Ernesto Adames OF  Dominican Republic (Released by the team)
Jhon Sandoval OF  Venezuela (Played for DSL2 in 2019, still active in the organization)
Wenceel Perez SS  Dominican Republic (.233/ .299/.314 at West Michigan)
Yerjeni Perez SS  Dominican Republic (Played in the GCL Tigers in 2019, still active in the organization)
Kendry Marte 3B  Dominican Republic (on the Voluntarily Retired List)

Total spent on signings: ($3.15 million according to the allotted amount at the time)

2017-2018: This was the first year under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that teams could not blow past their signing bonus money that was allocated to them.

Alvaro Gonzalez SS Venezuela  (Played for the GCL Tigers in 2019)
Yonneiry Acevedo SS Dominican Republic  (Played for the DSL2 Tigers in 2019)
Carlos Irigoyen SS Venezuela (Played for the GCL East Tigers in 2019)

Total spent on signings: $1.3 million per Spotrac data

2018-2019:

Jose de la Cruz OF Dominican Republic  (Played with DSL Tigers2 in 2019)
Adinso Reyes SS Dominican Republic  (Played with DSL Tigers1 in 2019)
Angel Cruz SS Dominican Republic (Played with DSL Tigers2 in 2019)
Yoan Bravo SS Venezuela  (Played with DSL Tigers1 in 2019)
Geury Estevez SS Dominican Republic  (Played with DSL Tigers1 in 2019)
Rolando Sirit P Venezuela (Played with DSL Tigers2 in 2019)

Total spent on signings: $3.8 million per Spotrac data

2019-2020:

Roberto Campos OF Cuba $2,850,000
Manuel Sequera, SS, Venezuela
Abelardo Lopez, OF Dominican Republic
Samuel Rojas, C Venezuela
Wilmer Fenelon RHP, Dominican Republic
Dany Martinez, C Dominican Republic
Raudy de Los Santos, SS Dominican Republic
Yoel Viloria OF  Venezuela
Jorge Boyer LHP Venezuela

Total spent on signings: $2.9 million per Spotrac data

Keep in mind that players who sign contracts as shortstops, may not end up at that position (West Michigan’s RHP Carlos Guzman as an example) and a majority of these players are still in rookie ball. But if you look at the number of Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves, you may be asking yourself  “When can we expect our 19-year phenom international superstar?” and that’s where you have to trust Detroit’s process of developing young talent.

If there is a season, Wenceel Perez will start his second full season stint at West Michigan (he played in 16 games in 2018)  along with Guzman, provided he is fully healthy and ready to go. The current crisis has really put a damper on seeing these players in action. Mind you, a few are not stateside including the newest signing, Cuban outfielder Roberto Campos (Anthony Fenech of the Freep has a write up on Campos and actual images of the prospect he wrote back in March)  who was scheduled to start his career in the Dominican Republic or the rest are playing in Lakeland in the Gulf Coast League.

You can point out Gregory Soto and Sandy Baez as players the Tigers have developed who came from the earlier international signings but they have not been impactful as of yet. Anthony Castro, Jose Azocar, and a few others in the system are currently organizational players but may play a role in the Tigers’ future but those roles do not look like big ones at the moment.

Don’t get caught up on the comparisons to past players when you are reading the MLB Pipeline information. For now, just watch with your two eyes and wait for the payoff.

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