As has become an annual tradition, yet again the Dodgers are reportedly set to sign one of the top international amateur free agents for the January 2024 signing class.
Ever since Ismael Cruz, Dodgers Vice President of International Scouting, was able to operate penalty-free (that is to say, as of 2018, due to the wild signings and subsequent penalties back in 2015/16), the Dodgers have consistently landed prospects ranked at or near the top of their respective classes.
Here are the Dodgers’ top ranked signees from each year, along with their respective ranks in their class from MLB Pipeline:
- 2018 — Diego Cartaya (3)
- 2019 — Luis Rodriguez (7)
- 2020 — IFA Signings On Hold
- 2021 — Wilman Diaz (2), Jesus Galiz (7)
- 2022 — Samuel Munoz (7), Accimias Morales (37)
- 2023 — Joendry Vargas (3), Arnaldo Lantigua (23)
Obviously there are some big hits, along with big misses, as well as incompletes. There are also some excellent prospects who did not feature quite as prominently at the time, but have since made their stamp (Josue De Paula, Rayne Doncon, Yeiner Fernandez, and more), and the influx of talent is undeniable.
With all of that out of the way, it has come to light via Baseball America that the Dodgers are set to ink one of the very best prospects in the 2024 class — 16-year-old, 6’3, 180 lbs shortstop, Emil Morales.
Shortstop is italicized because it is both a want for Dodger fans across all levels of the organization, and because it might be wishful thinking here. He’s a beast. He reportedly has the skill level to stay at short, with deft hands, good footwork for someone his size, and a solid average arm, but outgrowing the position is a real possibility, with sliding over to be a third baseman very much in the cards. But that’s neither here nor there — the real reason the Santo Domingo, DR native is listed among the top prospects in his class is his bat:
I’d just like to highlight the position Morales puts himself in, just prior to contact:
Head down, hands tight, barrel getting all kinds of room to accelerate through the zone, and as a 16-year-old he is generating big fly pop from this spot, which is pretty incredible. A compact swing like that bodes well for contact long-term, and potentially a plus hit tool down the road.
To top it all off, Morales is reportedly possessed of an advanced approach, and is lauded for his pitch recognition. All in all, its an exceptional package, the kind of physicality and skill set you pretty much only find in a class headliner.
For the 2024 signing period, the Dodgers have been allotted $5.925 million in bonus pool money, which is their highest total since IFA bonus pools came about in 2012. How the rest of the class plays out is anyone’s guess, but from what is available thus far, they appear to be off to a pretty good start.