Detroit Tigers offseason preview: international signing period

Tigers infield prospect Cristian Santana fields grounders during spring training Minor League
Tigers infield prospect Cristian Santana fields grounders during spring training Minor League / Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK
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C Enrique Jimenez

The first one is catcher Enrique Jimenez out of Venezuela. Ranked No. 32 in MLB Pipeline's top 50, he's a 17-year-old switch hitter. He's currently listed at 5-9, 160 lbs, which would be pretty small for a catcher, so it can be assumed that he'd have to grow a bit more to stick behind the dish.

Here's what MLB Pipeline has to say about Jimenez, both offensively and defensively:

""He shows lots of hitting ability and some power, especially from the right side of the plate. He makes hard contact to all fields and possesses noticeable opposite field power. The teenage catcher projects to an average runner. Behind the plate, he shows a high baseball IQ and an understanding of how to call a game. His blocking, framing and receiving skills continue to improve, and he has outstanding footwork. He projects to have an average arm, but he makes up for it in overall athleticism. His makeup has been described as off the charts.""

MLB Pipeline

Before we go any further, let me make one thing clear: scouting and projecting baseball players when they are teenagers is hard. There's a chance that none of the players in this top 50 amount to anything.

With that out of the way, Jimenez sounds like he could be nice player, especially at the plate. Being a switch-hitter is always a plus, as is having opposite-field power. If he can keep working on his defense and catching ability, he could be a nice piece for the future, should the Tigers sign him.

SS Maikol Orozco

The next player is Maikol Orozco, ranked No. 44 in Pipeline's top 50. He's a 17-year-old shortstop, also from Venezuela. He's been described as a bat-first prospect.

Here's what Pipeline has to say about him:

""Orozco is going to play in the middle of the field. He certainly has the skills to stay at shortstop, but his future could be at second base. What we know is that the offensive-minded prospect is going to hit. There’s a ton of projection with his hit tool in large part because of his advanced approach at the plate and ability to drive the ball to all fields. The ball jumps off of his bat, and he consistently makes hard contact. He is a bat-over-glove type of prospect, but he is not a liability on the field. He’s a decent defender with a strong arm for his age.""

MLB Pipeline

It is near-impossible to know at this stage whether Orozco will stick at shortstop, but even if he has to move to second base, it wouldn't be a huge deal as long as he hits, which it sounds like he will.

I'm assuming he's down this far on the list because of his defensive uncertainty, because the bat sounds pretty legit. He sounds like a nice signing for the Tigers should the rumors be true.

OF Cristian Perez

The final international free agent the Detroit Tigers have been rumored to be interested in is outfielder Cristian Perez from the Dominican Republic. He's 16 years old and appears to be the least developed of the three IFA's we've talked about, though that's not saying much since they are all teenagers.

Here's what Pipeline has to say about Perez:

""Perez already makes hard contact to all fields, and he shows signs of more power potential. Overall, the outfielder has a medium frame and a compact body. There is strength there, and it shows up in his swing. He has shown the ability to hit the fastball and continues to get a feel for the strike zone and the pitches he can drive. He projects to be an average defender with an average arm. The belief is that he will stay in center field and will get a chance to stay at the position.""

MLB Pipeline

This is what makes it so difficult to scout teenagers. They are likely not done growing. Perez seems like a player who could develop some more power simply by growing into his body.

Similar to Orozco, it's almost impossible to know whether he'll stick in center field or not. Overall, Perez would be a huge project for the Tigers should they sign him.

It'll be interesting to see what the Scott Harris-front office philosophy is when it comes to international free agents. As we mentioned at the start, Avila opened up the wallet for them. Something tells me Harris won't be as quick to throw the book at an international teenager. I think he'll spread the wealth.

Then again, the Tigers do have a lot of bonus pool money to work with. We'll just have to wait and see.

Next. 3 possible moves remaining this offseason for the Detroit Tigers. dark