The Cincinnati Reds and the rest of Major League Baseball can begin signing international players today. Normally beginning in July, the start of the international signing period was pushed to January this year. In their second year out of the penalty box for spending beyond their allotted spending amount in 2016, the Reds are back to spending with the big boys in the game. Every team is now on roughly equal footing when it comes to money and you can no longer spend more than allotted. Official signings will likely roll out over the next week or so as travel could be more of an issue this year than past years.
Malvin Valdez | Outfielder
The player expected to get the largest bonus from the Cincinnati Reds class, Malvin Valdez signed for $1.9M. That is the largest bonus given out by the organization to a non-Cuban international signee since 2008 when Juan Duran and Yorman Rodriguez both got more. We expected this signing to come as early as September of 2019 (not that it would happen then, but that the Reds were expected to sign him as of that point). Valdez is from the Dominican Republic. He’s 17-years-old.
Malvin Valdez Scouting Report
The outfielder has plus to plus-plus speed and can handle center field with no problems. A possible 5-tool player, he’s got a strong arm to go with his speed on defense. At the plate he’s got plenty of bat speed to work with and has some raw power to tap into down the line as he continues to develop.
Ariel Almonte | Outfielder
Cincinnati’s other 7-figure deal this year is going to Ariel Almonte. He, like Malvin Valdez, signed for $1.9M. Almonte hails from the Dominican Republic. He’s 17-years-old.
Ariel Almonte Scouting Report
More physical than Valdez, Ariel Almonte is 6′ 4″ and 190 lbs. He’s a right fielder with a plus arm that should play well at the position. At the plate, he’s a left-handed hitter with some power potential as he fills out his frame.
Brayan Rijo | Outfielder
Cincinnati’s third largest bonus handed out thus far is going to outfielder Brayan Rijo, signing for $750,000 according to Baseball America’s Ben Badler. Rijo is from the Dominican Republic. He’s 17-years-old.
Brayan Rijo Scouting Report
The right-handed hitting outfielder has a quick bat to work with. Like many players his age, he’s got room to fill out his frame. There’s not much current power, but there’s power to grow into. Rijo shows slightly above-average to above-average speed and a solid arm. He can handle center field today, but if he loses any speed as he fills out he may have to move to a corner.
Carlos Jorge | Shortstop
The Reds signed Carlos Jorge out of the same development hub as Malvin Valdez. He’s from the Dominican Republic. He’s 17-years-old.
Carlos Jorge Scouting Report
The middle infielder signed out of the Rudy Santin Baseball Academy. The left-handed hitter is more of a hitter than a power hitter, especially at this point in his development. He shows good athleticism, including plus-plus speed.
Luis Reyes | Third Baseman
Cincinnati picked up third baseman Luis Reyes out of Venezuela on Friday. He’s 17-years-old.
Luis Reyes Scouting Report
An offensive-first third baseman, Luis Reyes has good power potential. His approach at the plate appears advanced for his age and he has a chance to hit for both average and power in the future. Defensively he’s got plenty of arm for third base.
Jose Serrano | Shortstop
The Reds signed Jose Serrano out of Venezuela on Friday. He’s 17-years-old.
Jose Serrano Scouting Report
The shortstop is an above-average runner. He can really hit and has shown good performance in game settings. There’s a chance that he could eventually move to third base, but he’ll play shortstop for now and see how he develops and grows at the position. The more scouts saw him the more they liked what they saw.
Leonardo Balcazar | Shortstop
Venezuelan shortstop Leonardo Balzazar signed with the Reds on Friday afternoon.
Leonardo Balcazar Scouting Report
With good hands and a strong arm, Balcazar has a chance to remain at shortstop. The right-handed hitter has a nice swing and there’s some bat speed to work with, too.
Eddy Isturiz | Catcher
The Venezuelan catcher signed with Cincinnati on Friday. He’s 16-years-old.
Eddy Isturiz Scouting Report
A switch-hitter, Eddy Isturiz shows the ability to hit from both sides of the plate. Defensively he’s got a quick transfer to go with a strong arm.
Diego Omana | Catcher
The Venezuelan-born Diego Omana signed with the Reds on Friday. He’s 18-years-old.
Diego Omana Scouting Report
He shows a little bit of power in his bat. Behind the plate he’s got an average-ish arm. He’s noted to have good make up.
Alejandro Rodriguez | Right-Handed Pitcher
The Reds signed Alejandro Rodriguez, who was one of three Venezuelan-born pitchers signed on Friday. He’s 17-years-old.
Alejandro Rodriguez Scouting Report
The right-handed pitcher throws his fastball in the upper 80’s right now, but has room to add more velocity in the future. He shows good feel for both a curveball and a change up.
Luis Castro | Right-Handed Pitcher
Another one of the Venezuelan-born pitchers, Luis Castro signed with the Reds on Friday. He’s 18-years-old.
Luis Castro Scouting Report
A tall right-handed pitcher, Luis Castro is listed at 6′ 4″. He works downhill with his fastball that sits in the 88-91 MPH range with good sink. Castro has room to add some velocity in the future, too.
Raynardo Cruz | Right-Handed Pitcher
The Reds lone Dominican Republic born pitcher signee on the 1st day. He’s 19-years-old.
Raynardo Cruz Scouting Report
The right-handed pitcher has a quick arm with a fastball that works in the 88-92 MPH range, and he’s touched 93. He also throws a slider with some feel to it.
Cristian Galindo | Left-Handed Pitcher
Cristian Galindo was the only left-handed pitcher to sign with the Reds on Friday. He’s from Venezuela. He’s 18-years-old.
Cristian Galindo Scouting Report
A tall and lanky left-handed pitcher, Cristian Galindo works from a low 3/4 arm angle. His fastball sits in the mid-80’s right now, but could add more down the line as he continues to develop and fill out. He’s said to be able to really spin the ball.
Juan Martinez | Right-Handed Pitcher
Signed on Sunday, Juan Martinez is from Venezuela.
Juan Martinez Scouting Report
Martinez just turned 18. Has a starting pitcher profile with a fastball that works in the 88-90 MPH range while mixing in a curveball and a change up. Shows good control, throws strikes.
Brayan Marcano | Right-Handed Pitcher
Officially signed on Tuesday, Brayan Marcano hails from Venezuela. He’s also the cousin of current Reds third baseman Eugenio Suárez.
Brayan Marcano Scouting Report
More to come
The signings are still rolling in, as is more information. This will continue to be updated throughout the day and the next few days as more and more deals become official.
What Happens To the Money That Is Left Over ? The Reds Are At the Top In Money Allotted, But Have Been Out Spent By Other Clubs With Less Total Money. We Are Not Even In the Picture For the Top 20 International Players.
A few things…. first, there probably won’t be much, if any “leftover money”. There have been a few other reported signings that I haven’t written about yet – I’m looking for confirmation that the deals are done, not just speculated as agreed to, as well as being able to talk to someone to get a report on them. I’m hoping to be able to speak with the Reds international scouting director this weekend and get the details on as much as I can. When I do, I’ll be sure to write about it all.
As for the “rankings”, they are usually not all that reliable. This year makes it even more so. In the past, we were trying to rank guys based on how they looked around their 15th birthday when all of the “top guys” at that age were agreeing to deals and stopped having work outs for other teams. By the time they signed we were still basically trying to rank guys based on how a kid, and that’s what these guys are, looked like a year, year and a half before they signed.
That’s all compounded this year because now we’re mostly trying to rank guys based on how they looked TWO years ago because this class was all supposed to be ready to sign in July, and now it’s January.
Of course, it’s better to be signing guys that everyone else liked two years ago than not – but be hesitant to really put much weight on “rankings” for guys who for most intents and purposes were the age of a high school freshman or sophomore when they last had a workout for more than one team.
There’s not that much left over if those signing bonuses are correct. They have currently spent 5.75 mil out of a little more than 6.1 mil.
It looks like they are trying to bring in a greater number of prospects, which may not work, but certainly is a valid strategy.
There’s always been a worthwhile debate as to what’s the better option between going all-in on a guy at the very top (think of someone in that $3-5M market) and not much else, going with a few high end guys (in that $1-2M range) and a few mid-tier guys (mid-6-figure guys), or just loading up on a lot of low-to-mid 6-figure guys and hoping you get a few of those guys to develop. I can understand the strategy behind all of the plans.
With that said, the Reds have largely avoided the top of the market (be it because they lost out or that they didn’t try), and they’ve also, for the most part, avoided that low 7-figure tier, too. And we’ve seen how their international players have not reached the big leagues. That may or may not have anything at all to do with the scouting. Perhaps it’s been developing. Maybe there’s some bad luck involved, too (like signing a pitcher for $825,000 who never threw a single pitch in a game for the organization because he was never able to remain healthy).
Any chance you can drop in the comments the country they came from? It looks like the Reds have been active in areas they haven’t in the past. I could be wrong but it would interesting to see where they are coming from.
I’ll add it in with the next update. Everyone that’s signed so far is from Venezuela or the Dominican Republic.
Hey Doug, they give out ages? If so, can you include in next update? Thanks for this information, great little article.
They are all a long way away from the bigs but this is where it starts if the Reds are going to consistently successful. They need to identify and develop international and drafted players. Thanks for the info, looking forward to you following them and updating us the next few years.
Great Job. Amazing work to pull all of this together in such a short time period.
Yes I agree .. Thanks to Doug for putting this together . Your efforts are much appreciated !
Here here! Thank you Doug.
On the profiles, seems like they’re finding some great batting prospects. Excited to see how they do. Doug have you got a sense of any change in profile? I’m not seeing the dreaded, “some swing and miss, but has a shot to reach their power” MO which felt like the only thing that came along.
I think that generally speaking you don’t often see too many “swing-and-miss” reports when it comes to the international guys because unlike the guys that are drafted in North America, they aren’t seen in nearly as many games, so even if there is a presence of that, it doesn’t get seen quite as often. That’s not to say you don’t see it in some reports, but it’s a little less of something you see for that reason. Plus, you are also talking about guys that at 16 and 17, who are still just now beginning to see quality secondary pitches every so often.
Thanks, I appreciate it.
not to be nit-picky, but I’m confused by your statement on Juan Martinez that “he is the first pitcher signed in the class”….when there were several announced on Friday.
If you expect me to be able to explain my thought process that led to that one, I have bad news: I can not. I tried to think of what I could have meant but mistyped to get that, and I couldn’t.
Also, don’t try to not be nit-picky. Please always point out that stuff so I can fix it. Thanks.