As we look ahead to the 2021 MLB season, today is a critical day toward that end. Today is the day that international prospects can sign with MLB teams. For many teams, today is an opportunity to add players without drafting or trading for them.
Most, if not all international prospects are not MLB-ready when they sign. Yet, a fair amount of them eventually make contributions to each club, even if they are not involved in the 2021 MLB season.
International Prospects: How It Works
For most international prospects, there is what is called a posting process. This is the time and place where foreign-born players essentially declare their intention to sign with an MLB team. They first must post, and then declare that they are leaving their current professional team and league.
Then, they are free to negotiate with any MLB team who pursues them. They are in essence free agents. Negotiations continue up until signing day when they make their choices. Then they begin their careers in MLB or the minor leagues.
In terms of finances, each team is allotted an amount of international pool money. The amount for this signing period is between $5,939,800 and $6,481,200. Teams can sign as many players as this allotment will afford them, as some of the top picks may command $2,000,000 or more, teams need to spend wisely.
International Prospects: Some Background
So, what does it mean when we say international prospects? These players come mainly from a few countries: The Dominican Republic, Cuba, Venezuela, and Mexico. Occasionally, there will also be players from The Bahamas, Brazil, and Panama. Players can range in age from 16 years old and up, so one can see why very few would make an impact on the 2021 MLB season. Yet, teams have no qualms with signing players so young, as the great ones tend to work their way through the system and play in MLB at some point.
Each year, as many as 1,000 hopefuls may post for signing with an MLB team. With the pool money limitations, many will go without a contract. They may come back again, or they may look to play somewhere else. So it is a risk, but one these young men consider worth taking.
International Prospects: Looking At The Best
Several outlets offer their assessments of these international prospects. Interested fans can research them and come up with conclusions of their own. These young players have never played in the States, so all of these ratings are as many projections as they are evaluations.
With that in mind, here is one look at the top ten, some names to watch:
#1 Yoelqui Cespedes, 23, 5′ 9″, 205lbs, outfielder from Cuba
#2 Oscar Colas, 22, 6’1″, 209lbs, outfielder/pitcher from Cuba
#3 Wilman Diaz, 17, 6’2′, 170lbs, shortstop from Venezuela
#4 Carlos Colmenarez, 17, 5’10”, 170lbs, shortstop from Venezuela
#5 Armando Cruz, 16, 5’10”, 160lbs, shortstop from the Dominican Republic
#6 Christian Hernandez, 17, 6’2″, 175lbs, shortstop from the Dominican Republic
#7 Pedro Leon, 22, 5’10”, 180lbs, outfielder from Cuba
#8 Jesus Galiz, 17, 6’1″, 180lbs, catcher from Venezuela
#9 Rickardo Perez, 17, 6’0″, 180lbs, catcher from Venezuela
#10 Yiddi Cappe, 18, 6’3″, 175lbs, shortstop from Cuba
This is just one list of many, so it may or may not be representative of all the ratings. However, one can see from the list that prospects come in all shapes and sizes, and from the various countries listed above. In any case, none of these players, nor any others come with a guarantee of major league.
None of these names are household names, and it would be surprising to see any of them during the 2021 MLB season. Yet, this is an important day, both for these young men and for the teams that sign them. There may well be a future Hall of Famer or two in the bunch.
International Prospect Signing Day: Why It Matters
For fans that follow the MLB draft, international signing day is a big day. Ahead of the 2021 MLB season, teams are adding potential key pieces for the future. Much like the draft, these prospects can be hit or miss. But, also like the draft, teams are no doubt adding players that offer great potential.
So, as the Hot Stove League continues on low, and fans continue to anticipate the 2021 MLB season, this is a big day. While it often flies under the radar, it is definitely a day that merits the attention of serious baseball fans. You never know just who might be the next Mike Trout, Gerritt Cole, or Aaron Judge.
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