The new international signing period kicked off on Tuesday, and the Astros brought in 13 new prospects.
The 2019-2020 international signing period opened on Tuesday, and the Astros kicked it off by adding 13 new prospects to the organization. The crown jewel of the team’s additions was Dominican shortstop Dauri Lorenzo, ranked by MLB.com as the 14th-best international prospect in this signing period.
The signing of international prospects is governed by MLB’s collective bargaining agreement. Players who are 16 years of age or older (or who will turn 16 prior to Sept. 1) are eligible to be signed by any club. Each club has a set amount they are allowed to spend on signing bonuses for these prospects, though clubs can trade portions of their bonus allotments to other teams.
However, bonuses of $10,000 or less do not count toward that cap. Also, players over the age of 25 and who have played in a foreign professional league for at least six seasons are exempt, which is how players like Shohei Ohtani and Yuli Gurriel are signed differently.
For this signing period, the Astros were allotted just under $5.4 million to spend between now and June 15, 2020. A large chunk of the Astros’ bonus pool went to Lorenzo, who signed for a $1.8 million bonus.
Scouting Report on Lorenzo
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Lorenzo, who stands 6’1″ and 160 pounds at age 16, is a switch-hitting shortstop who seems to be average or better in all of his tools. Scouts love his swing and his ability to make hard contact to all parts of the field, as well as his knowledge of the strike zone. He’s also an above-average runner.
Where scouts differ seem to be on his defense. MLB.com notes that he has “good instincts with a live and accurate arm,” seeming like he could remain a shortstop. FanGraphs, however, pegs him as a bat-first prospect whose arm strength may eventually push him to second base.
At any rate, scouting international teenagers is not an exact science. There’s no doubt Lorenzo has some impressive tools for his age, but it’s going to take a few years for him to fully develop and move up the organizational ranks.
The Rest of the Class
All told, the Astros signed two catchers, five outfielders, three infielders and two right-handed pitchers in addition to Lorenzo. The club did not disclose signing bonuses to the international prospects, aside from MLB.com’s report of Lorenzo’s bonus, so it’s not clear how much of their bonus pool has been spent and how much remains.
Nine of the 13 prospects hail from the Dominican Republic, while three are from Venezuela and one (outfielder Everett Cooper) is from the Bahamas. Most of the top international prospects are from the Dominican Republic or Venezuela, with a few sprinkled in from other areas such as Cuba, Taiwan and Panama.
There may be additional signings between now and the end of the signing period next June, though most of the activity occurs on the first day. Now time will tell how these young men adjust to the minor leagues and if they can develop into major leaguers.