The 2020 international signing period that was set to begin on July 2nd – like it does every year – didn’t happen this year. Like most everything else in the sports world, the signing period for international players was put on hold this summer. Now the signing period won’t begin until January 15th. While a lot of things have changed in the time between when we were expecting the signing period to begin, and today – still three entire months from the day that signing period will begin – not much has changed in the way of rankings.

There’s a lot of reasons for that. Once players come to agreements with teams they tend to stop attending workouts – both in the group settings as well as individual settings. It’s been a while since many of the top prospects in the class were seen by evaluators from teams they weren’t in agreements with. But on top of that is 2020, where scouting has been shut down for the most part, too. Teams haven’t been able to host players they were expected to sign this year, either – something that they can do in normal times – and that’s led to lower levels of information being available on those guys that may have come out as teenagers progressed throughout the spring and summer.

With all of that said, the Cincinnati Reds are still listed as the favorites to sign two of the top 25 prospects in the upcoming class according to Baseball America. Both Malvin Valdez and Ariel Almonte are expected to sign with Cincinnati in January. Valdez, who we first wrote about in September of 2019, is an outfielder with all kinds of athleticism and tools to work with. Almonte is also an outfielder and he’s got some of the better power potential in the entire class.

Among the Top 25 in the Baseball America rankings, the Reds are the only team in the National League Central expected to sign multiple ranked players. The St. Louis Cardinals aren’t listed as the favorites to land any player in the top 50. Both the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates are the favorites to land a player in the Top 10, and the Milwaukee Brewers are the favorites to land one player in the Top 15.

While the signing has been delayed for all of these players, their development hasn’t been as delayed as much as one would think. While players who would have signed over the summer had it been a normal year would have likely played in the Tricky League (an unofficial “secondary” league in the Dominican Summer League), and have been able to stay and train at the academies – all of the top signees would have signed contracts for the 2021 season. They’ll still be signing those same contracts and officially beginning their careers in the 2021 season.

7 Responses

  1. Bred

    How old are those guys, and what would their expected MLB ETA be?

    • Dallas

      Valdez is 17 and Almonte is 16. I would say best case scenario they are each at least 4-5 years away. Hope this information helps.

    • Doug Gray

      Dallas kind of hit the nail on the head here, mostly. This market is looking at 16 and 17-year-old kids. They are years away from the Major Leagues.

  2. Jim

    Every now and then someone skips the Minors, but usually a college grad like Leake. One of these days some freakish player from Dominican might make it as a 17/18 yr old.

  3. James Phillips

    Long term this move into the Latin market could be huge. The Reds have had the success they’ve had largely without any impact Latin players other than the relievers from Cuba. It’s hard to build a successful organization without some high-end talent from the DR.

  4. Greenfield Red

    With Minier and Triana from last year, there is a glimmer of hope in the Latin market.

  5. Charlie Waffles

    Here is a little scouting report on Almonte from MLB dot com. They didn’t have Valdez in their top-30 International prospects. Almonte was #25.

    “Almonte can flat out hit and that’s what makes him so attractive to evaluators.
    The teenager is a bat-first corner outfielder who projects to be a plus hitter with plus power potential if he continues to develop at a normal pace. Almonte has a chance to be a middle-of-the-order slugger who can drive in runs in the big leagues one day.
    At the plate, he generates good backspin and drives the balls to all fields, particularly to left-center. He has a real understanding of the strike zone and an advanced ability to recognize pitches. What’s more, there’s not much swing-and-miss to his game when compared to his peers and drawing walks will be a part of his game, which is not common for prospects his age. On defense, he projects to have a plus arm and has a chance to be an everyday right fielder in the big leagues one day. Like most prospects his age, Almonte is working on improving his reads and routes from both corner outfield positions.
    He shows solid instincts on the bases and has a high baseball IQ, but overall, he projects to be a below average runner as he matures, and his body fills out. There’s room in his long and wiry frame for significant strength gains.
    He trains with a group that includes German Rosario and Elvin Fulgencio in the Dominican Republic. The Reds are the favorite to sign him.”