Though the minor league baseball season has come to a close, prospect news never stops, what with the Arizona Fall League kicking off on October 3rd, offseason 40-man roster decisions, the Rule 5 Draft, and often notable prospect participation in both the Dominican and Venezuelan Winter Leagues.
In addition to all of that, there is the international amateur free agent signing period, which kicks off on January 15th. In advance of that, MLB Pipeline has published their Top 50 International Prospects for the upcoming signing period, with the Dodgers once again featuring prominently despite having some of the smallest bonus pools year in and year out.
First off, who runs these things? That’d be Vice President of International Scouting, Ismael Cruz. Cruz joined the Dodgers in November of 2015 after previously serving in a similar role with the Toronto Blue Jays, for whom he famously signed wunderkind Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Cruz had a tall order after joining the organization. The club obliterated their bonus pool in the 2015-16 signing period, so they were limited to bonuses of no more than $300,000 for the subsequent two years. That, coupled with the fact that players often agree to deals years ahead of their actual signing date, meant that he was starting behind the eight ball, and it would take years for his top of the line efforts to bear fruit. The results of he and his staff’s efforts are strongly represented on MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 Prospects for the Dodgers:
- Diego Cartaya
- Miguel Vargas
- Andy Pages
- Jose Ramos
- Eddys Leonard
- Jorbit Vivas
- Carlos Duran
- Yeiner Fernandez
- Edgardo Henriquez
- Jesus Galiz
- Wilman Diaz
- Rayne Doncon
So now that it has been reasonably established that the Dodgers have an idea about what they’re doing, here’s whom MLB Pipeline has headlining the upcoming class for the Dodgers:
Vargas is a 6’3, 170 lbs shortstop from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and Pipeline has him ranked 3rd in their top 50. Vargas is earning praise for both his approach and bat to ball, and with a boatload of projection, he should grow into some significant pop.
Though he is tall for shortstop, Vargas is a smooth defender, with a good first step and quick hands, and he should have no issues staying on the dirt even if he outgrows his current position.
Lantigua is a 6’3, 180 lbs outfielder from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, and Pipeline has him ranked 23rd in their top 50. Lantigua physically advanced for a 16-year-old, and that strength shows up in his explosive rotation:
Lantigua is reportedly posting 100+ mph exit velos in both batting practice and games, which is incredibly impressive for a 16-year-old. For some perspective on this, Termarr Johnson, who was the #4 overall pick in the 2022 draft, had a max exit velo over at Perfect Game of 97 mph, which ranked in the 98th percentile for the class. Johnson is almost exactly a year and a half older than Lantigua. Feel free to get hyped about the new kid’s power potential, if only a little bit.
Lantigua is currently listed as a center fielder, and while Pipeline says he’s a decent defender, he is definitely a bat-first prospect at this stage.
As it is with every international class, it will take years to find out whether or not this duo will make a meaningful impact. However things shakes out, it is impressive that, yet again, despite how the deck is consistently stacked against them, the Dodgers appear to be landing some of the very best prospects in the class. This is how a stacked system stays stacked, they just keep reloading.