When the Cincinnati Reds made major international signings over the past decade, their main focus was on Cuban talent.
The Reds stunned the industry when they signed Aroldis Chapman in 2010. You signed Raisel Iglesias in 2014. When they were ready to impose a two-year sentence for spending more than their bonus pool in the 2016-17 class, they paid huge bonuses to Jose Garcia, Vladimir Gutierrez and Alfredo Rodriguez to sign.
After the two-year sentence – and a new upper limit for the international bonus pools of the teams – the Reds have increasingly committed to signing top talent in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.
The two biggest international signings on Friday, the first day players could be officially signed in the 2020-21 class, were Dominican outfielder Malvin Valdez ($ 1.9 million) and Ariel Almonte (US $ 1.85 million -Dollar). This is believed to be the club’s biggest bonus, being given out to non-Cuban international signers in more than a decade.
“We had a really good, even class this year,” said Trey Hendricks, the Reds’ international director of scouting. “My staff did an amazing job, not only with the big buck guys in the Dominican Republic, but we also have some sub-radar mid-range dollars that we’re really looking forward to.”
The Reds announced they signed 13 international freelance agents on Friday, eight from Venezuela and five from the Dominican Republic. The Reds are one of the teams with the largest bonus pool ($ 6.431 million) as they are a lower-income team selected in the Competitive Balance B round of the 2020 draft MLB.
There are obvious risks in trying to project which aspiring high school students will make it into the major leagues, but it’s a huge talent pipeline for teams. The Reds’ top hitter (Eugenio Suárez), the pitcher (Luis Castillo) and the prospect (Garcia) were probably international signatories at the beginning of their careers.
The Reds will hold a strength and skill camp at their complex in the DR next week for players who signed on Friday and players who signed last year but couldn’t play because of the pandemic. Michel Triana, her best international signatory in the 2019-20 class, was scheduled to play in the Panamanian Winter League before it was canceled last week so he will be attending the complex’s camp.
“The goal is always to find the best player and worry about position later, especially when it comes to 16- and 17-year-olds,” said Hendricks, who joined the Reds in November 2018. Boys are shortstops, but there are only 30 short stops in the major league. Many of them will move into different positions. “
Here is a breakdown of their top bonus winners on Friday:
• • CF Malvin Valdez, 17, Dominican Republic – According to Baseball America, he received a $ 1.9 million signing bonus. He’s a great athlete and has some loud tools that give the Reds confidence that he can play in midfield. He’s 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, clocked 6.5 seconds on the 60-yard dash, which is the elite speed limit, and Hendricks says he has a plus-plus arm.
“He’s really hitting the baseball on the plate,” said Hendricks. “I think the biggest things for him is just repetition and learning to stay within yourself. It has a huge advantage and we are very excited to add it. ”
• • BY Ariel Almonte, 17, Dominican Republic – He was ranked 26th in the 2020-21 class by MLB.com and signed for a bonus of $ 1.85 million. He is rated highly for being an advanced hitter with power potential. He projects as a corner outfielder and has grown two or three inches to 6-foot-4,190 pounds last year.
“Really good left-handed pitchers,” said Hendricks. “Very advanced approach. Record discipline, he’s the guy who’s going to take his walk. He doesn’t go up there and expand the zone like many young Latin hitters see it just because they’re trying to show off everything they can do in a showcase setting.
“He’s up to 6-4. Long lever. He shows power in all areas, especially the center left. He is left handed. It’s really exciting to find a man who shows that he can turn the ball the other way at such a young age. “
• • 3B Luis Reyes, 17, Venezuela – According to MLB.com, he signed a bonus of $ 680,000. Baseball America called him an “offensive” third baseman with a strong, stout physique.
“He’s spent a lot of time in the DR over the last year or two,” said Hendricks. “He’s one of those guys we’ve been watching for years and he’s always played in games. Consistent hard contact. He’s actually been behind the plate in the past but we believe in the bat so much that we moved him to third place to take some pressure off the defense just because catching is such a demanding position. We want to see how the bat plays. “
• • FROM Brayan Rijo, 17, Dominican Republic – According to Baseball America, he received a bonus of $ 750,000. The publication wrote that the 6-foot, 160-pounder has a chance to stay in the center, and it shows more power than its frame suggests.
“Very projectable,” said Hendricks. “High waist, long legs. Nice swing from the right side. Consistently grabs the ball upwards. “
The international signature period was always July 2nd, but MLB pushed it back to January after the pandemic started.
“It didn’t really affect this class,” said Hendricks. “The biggest thing was that we didn’t have the days we normally had with these players in our complex. MLB allows a certain number of days depending on when the player is eligible to sign. We just lost those days, but I’m really proud of all the kids and how hard they worked during the pandemic. They all look very good. You are in shape. You are ready to go. “