The 2018-19 international signing period begins today, and the Dodgers have added to their farm system.
They are no longer under restriction from their spending spree of 2015-16 — when they spent more than $90 million (taxes included) to acquire the likes of Yadier Alvarez ($16 million), Yusniel Diaz ($15.5 million), Omar Estevez ($6 million), Starling Heredia ($2.6 million), Ronny Brito ($2 million) and Yordan Alvarez ($2 million, who was traded to the Astros for Josh Fields at the 2016 trade deadline).
Over the last couple years, the signings have been plentiful, but because they were limited to spending no more than $300,000 on a single player, they weren’t in a great position to land impact prospects. That restriction is now gone, but they can only spend $4,983,500 million on prospects this period unless they acquire more slot money (up to 75 percent of the allotted amount), but teams are becoming more and more reluctant to part with much of that money. The Marlins and Orioles are infamous for doing that, so maybe there will be some money to be had there. Also, bonuses of $10,000 or fewer don’t count toward the pool. Finally, players who are 25 or older don’t have their bonus amounts counted toward the pool.
Onto the signings, one of which is very exciting.
- C Diego Cartaya, Venezuela, $2.5 million
- RHP Jerming Rosario, Dominican Republic, $600,000
- 3B Alex De Jesus, Dominican Republic, unknown
- SS Miguel Droz, Venezuela, unknown (strongly linked to LA; not signed yet)
Diego Cartaya has been linked to the Dodgers for more than a year, and they finally landed the Venezuelan catcher by giving him a $2.5 million signing bonus. He’s the first Dodger international amateur signee to get a 7-figure bonus since Yordan Alvarez.
Cartaya is lauded for his high baseball IQ, natural actions behind the plate and maturity. He was ranked in the Top 3 of all three sites that rank international prospects — No. 1 by MLB Pipeline and No. 3 by both Baseball America and FanGraphs. Here’s what each had to say about him.
“An advanced hitter, the teenager displays plus contact skills and has been praised for his pitch recognition and feel for the strike zone. He has shown some power to the gaps and is expected to improve on that part of his game as he matures. Cartaya is a below-average runner, but the team that signs him does not expect him to be a threat on the bases. It does hope he follows in the footsteps of Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez, who is also from Venezuela. On defense, Cartaya has a reputation as a great receiver with very good hands. He handles pitchers well and has a high baseball IQ. He moves well behind the plate. Cartaya’s skills translate to game action and have since his days in Venezuela’s youth baseball circuit. The 6-foot-2, 199-pound teenager showed off his strong arm and good footwork during the MLB Showcase for Venezuelan players in Cartagena, Colombia. He showed off his plate discipline one month later at the showcase in the Dominican Republic.”
“Cartaya has represented Venezuela at international tournaments since he was 10. That extensive game experience shows in the way he plays with a high baseball IQ well beyond his years, with a well-rounded skill set for a catcher. Cartaya projects to stick behind the plate with the potential to develop into an above-average defender. He has a plus arm and a quick exchange, with pop times in games in the low 1.9s. He blocks and receives pitches well for his age, showing good flexibility, agility and defensive instincts. Cartaya’s baseball acumen shows on both sides of the ball. He has a short, quick swing and focuses on driving the ball to center and right-center field in batting practice. He’s a polished hitter for his age with a sharp handle on the strike zone, recognizing pitches and not chasing much off the plate. Cartaya’s hitting ability and plate discipline should make him a high OBP catcher who can hit toward the top of a lineup. His power is mostly to the gaps now, but with his size, he could grow into average power once he gets stronger and gains a better awareness of which pitches he can turn on to drive with authority.”
“This is very physical teenager with some of the best present raw power in the class and a good chance to play a premium defensive position. Cartaya has a strong, physically mature build that inspires Salvador Perez comparisons. He has excellent lateral mobility despite his size and his receiving has been alright, but not great, when he’s caught pro-quality stuff at showcases. He checks all the other beloved catcher skillset boxes; Cartaya is poised and engaged with his pitchers, he has a great arm, he looks built to meet the position’s physical demands and makes an attempt to frame pitches when he can. There’s a chance he outgrows the position but he’s deceptively athletic for his size and we’d call it unlikely. There’s not as much room for power projection here as there is for most of the others in the class but plenty to profile at catcher. Cartaya’s approach is geared for well-timed, pull-side gap contact.”
Pretty glowing reports, especially for a 16-year-old. And the Dodgers have done a great job developing catchers, so it’d be surprising if he doesn’t at least make it to the majors one day. That’s a bold thing to say about a kid who’s just old enough to get a driver’s license, but the Dodgers worked their magic with Keibert Ruiz, and I’m anticipating they’ll do the same with Cartaya.
Here’s some video.
Jermling Rosario, also 16, is from the Dominican Republic. Like Cartaya, Rosario is advanced for his age in terms of maturity and approach. He was ranked 30th by Pipeline, 23rd by BA and 22nd by FanGraphs. Here’s what they said.
“The teenager performed well at MLB’s International Prospect Showcase in February in the Dominican Republic, showing off a fastball in the 89-to-90 mph range and breaking balls to keep hitters off balance. In terms of tools, Rosario has a few considered above average and is expected to improve on his overall game once he signs with a team and enters a club’s academy. He is best known for his fastball, but his changeup and curveball are not that far behind and could eventually develop into his strikeout pitches. As far as his makeup is concerned, Rosario’s competitive streak and confidence on the mound are what have caught scouts’ eyes.”
“Many of the best pitching prospects in the game today who are from the Dominican Republic signed for small bonuses. It’s difficult to know which pitchers will see their velocity spike, stay healthy and remain in the starting rotation. Rosario separates himself from his peers is the Dominican Republic as an athletic righthander with the arrow pointing in the right direction on his stuff, possessing the attributes to project as a starter with a three-pitch mix and solid strike-throwing ability. Rosario throws 88-91 mph, with quick arm speed and plenty of space left on his skinny, projectable frame to fill out and throw harder. Rosario’s 79-82 mph changeup is advanced for his age, throwing off the balance and timing of opposing hitters. He sells it well by repeating his arm speed, with good action and separation off his fastball. His curveball is inconsistent, but at its best it shows sharp bite and good depth.”
FanGraphs didn’t have a report on him, but they said gave his athleticism a “plus” and his frame a “minus,” which isn’t terribly surprising because, you know, he’s 16. But he has a chance to grow like most teenagers. He still has a projectable frame and should add velocity over the coming years.
And some video.
Some good things to like there with Rosario. The offspeed stuff, obviously, needs work, but you can see the makings of a solid prospect.
Ben Badler of Baseball America also reports the Dodgers signed Dominican third baseman Alex De Jesus (16, 6-foot-2, 185 pounds) and are linked to Venezuelan shortstop Miguel Droz (16, no vitals available).
Here’s some video of De Jesus.
He has broad shoulders for a 16-year-old, so not only could you see him adding some bulk as he matures physically, but that could also translate into power.
And some of Droz.
In his swing, his upper-half needs to be smoothed out a bit, while his lower-half isn’t incorporated much. I’m sure that will change over the next few years. The 16-year-old has some defensive chops, but he’ll have to improve his actions (throwing motion, footwork) if he’s to stick at shortstop.
We’ll have more signings as they become available.