Dodgers ink Venezuelan OF Luis Rodriguez, others on first day of 2019 international signing period

Luis Rodriguez, front left. (Via Ben Badler)

The Dodgers opened the 2019-20 international signing period by locking up three high-profile Venezuelan teenagers in Kristian Cardozo, Yeiner Fernandez and Luis Rodriguez, plus some other interesting prospects.

The highest-rated prospect is Rodriguez. The 16-year-old center fielder is listed at 6’2, 175-180 pounds and was ranked 3rd and 4th, respectively, by FanGraphs and MLB Pipeline. Here’s what both had to say about him.

FanGraphs

“Depending on the look, some scouts think he can play center field, others think he’ll get bigger and shift to right field, but everyone sees a hit tool and power projection.”

MLB Pipeline

“Rodriguez is the best overall player from Venezuela in the class of 2019. He’s a pure hitter and natural athlete with solid baseball instincts across the board. He is also known for his physically projectable body and easy actions on defense and at the plate. Rodriguez has sound approach in the batter’s box and has shown the ability to use all fields with consistent and hard contact. There’s a nice rhythm and balance to his swing and although he’s primarily a line drive hitter now, there have been flashes of power and it could increase as he develops. He has impressed scouts by performing well against pitchers throwing 93 mph to 95 mph during workouts and showcases. Rodriguez is a quality defender in center field now and he makes all of the plays, but it’s uncertain if that’s where he will stay because he’s not a plus runner. He developed his game in the youth leagues of Venezuela and has a high baseball IQ.”

And while Baseball America is not ranking international amateur free agents this time around, Ben Badler still has some information on Rodriguez.

“Rodriguez is one of the most complete players in the 2019 class, with a good combination of size (6-foot-2, 180 pounds), athleticism and hitting ability from the right side. When I saw him face live pitching in the Dominican Republic, he homered to right-center field off a pitcher who was throwing up to 92 mph, then narrowly missed another homer that hit the fence to the same part of the park. Rodriguez has good plate discipline, hits well in games against older pitchers and has a natural ability to lift the ball for power. He runs the 60-yard dash in around 6.7 to 6.8 seconds, so if he can retain that speed, he could stick in center field, too. Rodriguez trains with Angel Valladares.”

The consensus seems to be if Rodriguez doesn’t stick in center field, he should hit enough for right field. But for now, he has a center field profile — and a good one.

And here’s some video of the youngster.

Next up is 16-year-old right-handed pitcher Cardozo (6’1, 175 pounds), who ranked 21st on both FanGraphs’ and MLB Pipeline’s top international prospects list. Here’s what both had to say about him.

FanGraphs

“Clean arm and delivery with projection from those more than huge physical projection; average-ish three pitch mix at times.”

MLB Pipeline

“First of all, Cardozo has the durable and athletic frame evaluators seek in starting pitcher prospects. He also features a lot more. The young right-hander has an easy, repeatable delivery paired with a loose and under-control arm action. He has shown the ability to throw strikes and his mix of three quality pitches stands out for a player his age. Cardozo’s fastball usually sits in the 90 mph range for multiple innings and he has been up to 92 mph with good command. More velocity could be on the way as he grows and his body develops. Cardozo’s curveball sits in the low 70s with depth and good tempo and his change hovers in the low 80s with some arm-side fade. Overall, his present pitch abilities and stuff combined with body projection has some scouts believing Cardozo has middle-of-the-rotation upside. He’s a competitor that also known for his good makeup. He’s confident on the mound.”

Sounds like a promising young arm. The fact he has a good makeup is something that can’t be taught to many pitchers, let alone 16-year-olds.

And some video.

And what would an international signing class be without a catcher in Fernandez. The 16-year-old isn’t similar to Diego Cartaya, the 16-year-old Venezuelan catcher the Dodgers signed last year for $2.5 million, as Fernandez is more in the mold of an Austin Barnes, physically (5’10, 175 pounds). He ranked 31st on FanGraphs’ list.

“One of the first deals in the class, Fernandez hasn’t been scouted much as a result. He doesn’t have much physical projection but has advanced feel for contact and can probably (stick) behind the plate.”

And here’s another Ben Badler video of him.

Seems to fit the Dodgers’ preference for catchers.

Darol Garcia, a shortstop from the Dominican Republic, is the Dodgers’ first signing from the Caribbean during this period. There’s not a ton of information on him, but he’s 6’0, 155 pounds, is a right-right shortstop and will be 17 years old until December.

He wasn’t ranked by FanGraphs or Pipeline, but there are a couple videos of him on YouTube.

Garcia looks like he has good actions at shortstop and is athletic enough to handle the position in the immediate. He also looks pretty good at the plate (and yes, I know highlight videos are meant to make players look good). He has a big leg kick and good bat speed.

Victor Sosa is the next known signee. He’s a 16-year-old outfielder from Venezuela who wasn’t ranked by either FanGraphs or Pipeline. The only bit of info on him is this Instagram video from Badler.

Perhaps the most interesting signing is that of left-handed pitcher Eduardo Dominguez, not because he’s a big-time prospect, but because he’s from Spain! There have only been four players born in Spain to reach the major leagues. Here’s a little video of him from Badler.

That curveball looks pretty legitimate. He also shows a fastball and changeup in this video.

Finally, Juan Idrogo, a Venezuelan right-handed pitcher, closes out the known prospects the Dodgers have signed so far today. I have zero information about him — not even an age.

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Rules

The international signing period, known as the July 2 period, is the time when teams can sign international amateur prospects not subject to the MLB Draft. There are strict rules in the current Collective Bargaining Agreement for the international signing process, not like when the Dodgers went crazy four years ago on the market.

The Dodgers have been allotted $4,821,400 to sign players from July 2, 2019 through June 15. They lost $500,000 of their pool when they signed A.J. Pollock over the winter. Any prospect signed for $10,000 or less does not count toward the bonus pool. The age cutoff for players whose bonuses count toward the pool is 25 years old. Any player 25 or older doesn’t have his signing bonus count toward the pool. The full rules area available here.

Player Position Age Country Bonus
Luis Rodriguez OF 16 Venezuela unknown
Kristian Cardozo RHP 16 Venezuela unknown
Yeiner Fernandez C 16 Venezuela unknown
Darol Garcia SS 16 Dominican Rep. unknown
Victor Sosa OF 16 Venezuela unknown
Eduardo Dominguez LHP ? Spain unknown
Juan Idrogo RHP ? Venezuela unknown
Total       unknown
International pool       $4,821,400
Difference       N/A

I’ll update this later once the bonus amounts are known and more players sign.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.