2024 International Prospect Rankings and Scouting Reports

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Monday is the first day of the new international signing period, so I’ve expanded and updated my evaluations of players from the class. An overview of the rules that govern signing international amateurs can be found on MLB’s glossary here, while more thorough and detailed documentation can be found starting on page 316 of the CBA and page 38 of the Official Professional Baseball Rules Book. Players have until December 15 to sign before this signing period closes.

Scouting reports, tool grades, and projected signing teams and bonuses for just shy of 50 players from the 2024 class can now be viewed over on The Board. Because the International Players tab has an apples and oranges mix of older pros from Asian leagues and soon-to-be first-year players, there is no explicit ranking for this amateur class on The Board. However, I’ve stacked the class with a ranking in the table below, and as usual, that ranking will live on the International Players dropdown of The Board after most of these guys have finished signing in the coming weeks.

Regular readers already know that the FV grades are more meaningful than the ordinal rankings, and that you can argue about how to line up players with the same FV grade in all kinds of different ways. I like to use theoretical draft position as a barometer by which to grade international amateurs. Scouting and comparing international players’ tools and athleticism to those of recent and upcoming domestic amateurs helps me to triangulate approximately where they’d go in a given draft, and assign them an FV based on that approximation. Players with a 40+ FV grade or above tend to be prospects who I think would go in the first two rounds of a draft, while the teenage 40 FV prospects are the sort I’d ballpark just after the second round.

As I’ve honed a process for this over the years, my first step has become to source rumored bonus amounts, often hopping on the phone with people who are involved with international players or scouting to see who they’ve heard will be receiving $1 million or more. This is also when I start to collect biographical data like position, date of birth, handedness, and measurables. Once I have a fairly complete picture of the players expected to garner meaningful bonuses, I start to make more scouting and evaluation-centric calls and inquiries to augment the initial, bonus-based foundation of the list. Combine that with my in-person notes (rare in this market) and supplementary video analysis (more common than ever thanks to encrypted file sharing and players’ social media), plus one last pass at all the bonuses, and things are fully baked.

Of course, there are some holes left open by doing it this way. Chiefly, there are definitely players below my bonus threshold who are talented enough to be on this list, but I simply don’t know about them yet. Aside from team personnel who closely monitor their own guys’ progress as signing day approaches, I haven’t found a way to capture those pop-up prospects, and obviously the team personnel route creates issues with objectivity and telegraphing sources. For now, it’s up to all but a few of the $700,000 and below bonus guys to separate themselves later this year when they start playing pro ball.

Every player who I believe is set to receive a bonus of $1 million or more (aside from a handful of players rumored to have failed MLB’s age and identification check) is included in this ranking, along with a smattering of players with high six-figure bonuses, guys who emerged as favorites of scouts or of mine throughout the process. Expected bonus amounts have been sourced via scout and executive word of mouth across the past 18 months or so, and then cross-checked in the week leading up to publication. There are a couple of bonus amounts below where my sources were not in exact agreement. In those cases, the gap is typically only $100,000-$200,000, but I’ve put an asterisk on those amounts below to indicate the imprecision. I’m going to talk more about early verbal bonus agreements, the byproduct of me trying to source them, and more after the ranking table and some thoughts on the class:

2024 International Amateur Prospects
Rank Name Pos Age Proj Team FV Proj Bonus Country
1 Leodalis De Vries SS 17.3 SDP 50 $4,200,000 Dominican Republic
2 Emil Morales SS 17.3 LAD 45+ $2,400,000 Dominican Republic
3 Adriel Radney CF 16.6 ARI 45+ $1,850,000 Dominican Republic
4 Fernando Cruz SS 17.2 CHC 45 $4,000,000 Dominican Republic
5 Victor Hurtado RF 16.6 WSN 45 $2,700,000 Dominican Republic
6 Adolfo Sanchez RF 17.3 CIN 45 $2,800,000 Dominican Republic
7 Jose Perdomo 3B 17.3 ATL 45 $5,000,000 Venezuela
8 Robert Arias CF 17.3 CLE 45 $1,900,000 Dominican Republic
9 Daiber De Los Santos SS 17.3 MIN 40+ $1,900,000* Dominican Republic
10 Yandel Ricardo 3B 17.3 KCR 40+ $2,400,000 Cuba
11 Jorge Quintana SS 16.8 MIL 40+ $1,700,000 Venezuela
12 Ashly Andujar SS 16.5 COL 40+ $1,300,000 Dominican Republic
13 Naibel Mariano SS 17.3 CIN 40+ $1,650,000* Dominican Republic
14 Dawel Joseph CF 16.7 SEA 40+ $3,500,000 Dominican Republic
15 Luis Cova CF 16.9 MIA 40+ $1,400,000 Venezuela
16 Francisco Vilorio RF 17.2 NYY 40+ $1,700,000 Dominican Republic
17 Yovanny Rodriguez C 17.2 NYM 40+ $2,800,000* Dominican Republic
18 Yunior Arias RF 17.3 TOR 40 $900,000 Dominican Republic
19 Belfi Rivera CF 17.1 ARI 40 $1,800,000 Dominican Republic
20 Jhonaykel Ugarte 3B 16.8 KCR 40 $1,300,000 Dominican Republic
21 Emilio Sanchez SS 16.7 BAL 40 $1,700,000 Dominican Republic
22 Abdiel Feliz SS 16.9 PIT 40 $1,200,000* Dominican Republic
23 Luis Peña SS 17.2 MIL 40 $850,000 Dominican Republic
24 Humberto Cruz SP 17.1 SDP 40 $700,000 Mexico
25 Jhonny Level 2B 16.8 SFG 40 $1,300,000 Venezuela
26 Richard Matic 3B 16.5 NYY 40 $800,000 Dominican Republic
27 Luis Rives RF 19.2 HOU 40 $1,000,000 Cuba
28 Angel Brachi 2B 17.0 TBR 40 $800,000 Venezuela
29 Joswa Lugo SS 17.0 LAA 40 $2,800,000 Dominican Republic
30 Paulino Santana RF 17.2 TEX 40 $1,500,000* Dominican Republic
31 Jose Ramos CF 17.3 OAK 40 $1,200,000 Venezuela
32 Leonardo Pineda CF 16.7 TBR 40 $1,750,000 Dominican Republic
33 Edgar Montero 3B 17.1 OAK 40 $1,200,000 Dominican Republic
34 Jesus Made 2B 16.7 MIL 35+ $950,000 Dominican Republic
35 Luis Manuel León SS 17.5 STL 35+ $1,000,000 Cuba
36 Franklin Rojas C 16.8 TOR 35+ $1,100,000 Venezuela
37 Branneli Franco SP 16.9 STL 35+ $800,000 Dominican Republic
38 Erick Matos SP 17.0 OAK 35+ $700,000 Dominican Republic
39 Jalvin Arias RF 17.3 PHI 35+ $1,400,000 Dominican Republic
40 Angel Feliz 3B 17.2 WSN 35+ $1,800,000 Dominican Republic
41 Stiven Martinez RF 16.4 BAL 35+ $950,000 Dominican Republic
42 Eduardo Beltre RF 17.3 MIN 35+ $1,500,000 Dominican Republic
43 Brailyn Brazoban RF 18.0 PIT 35+ $2,000,000 Dominican Republic
44 Edward Lantigua LF 17.2 NYM 35+ $950,000 Dominican Republic
45 Nestor Miranda 1B 17.9 DET 35+ $1,500,000 Dominican Republic
46 Yohendry Sanchez C 17.2 SFG 35+ $1,400,000 Venezuela
47 Cesar Yanquiel Hernandez OF 20.7 HOU 35+ $1,700,000 Cuba
48 Eduardo Herrera 3B 17.2 CHW 35+ $1,800,000 Venezuela

Note that Leodalis De Vries is in a tier of his own atop the class. I had a (non-Padres) scouting executive tell me I should quit this exercise and just write a profile about De Vries, who is one of the more talented prospects to come along in the last five to 10 years. The way De Vries’ reports have trended over the last year suggests he may end up at second base eventually, but the hit and power combo is going to clear that bar pretty easily. It’s uncommon for me to have a new international prospect on the Top 100 list straight away, but De Vries’ reports are strong enough that I’m compelled to have him toward the back of the list.

In the next tier down is infielder Emil Morales and outfielder Adriel Radney, the two other players in the class who have a shot to do a little bit of everything and develop into five-tool players. They’re players with a fairly solid hit tool track record — insofar as a player can have one at this stage — and considerable power projection because of their size, but each also has a good shot at remaining at a premium position; in Morales’ case, he could perhaps be a very good defender at a second-tier position (third base). Once you get past the top three players in the class, the rest have at least one gap in their skill set or profile, be it a perceived cap on their offensive ceiling (Jose Perdomo, Fernando Cruz) or the fact that they’re buried way down the defensive spectrum (Adolfo Sanchez, Victor Hurtado). Those 45 FV prospects (basically a mid-to-late first round draft grade) will be fantastic and exciting additions to their new clubs, but considerations like this are how the FV layers are made.

There again aren’t many pitchers on the list because it’s rare for teams to funnel seven figures worth of pool space into arms. More and more, teams are signing older, slightly more developed pitchers on the international market with $10,000 and $20,000 bonuses. Teams once mostly targeted younger pitchers, who struggled to develop at the rate the CBA expects them to. That allowed other teams to add pitchers discounted because of their age en masse and then develop them with modern methodologies; this was a boon for Houston, among other clubs. Now it’s a more common approach, so common that Japanese teams have also become active in that segment of the market and are trying to outbid MLB clubs that have gotten used to handing out $10,000 bonuses to 20-year-old arms.

Readers will want to comb through the scouting blurbs on The Board because in some cases, I’ve provided a timeline for some of the changes in player-to-team attachments that I have in my notes from working on this signing class. Despite it being against the rules, most teams enter into verbal agreements with players and their trainers/agents many months, and sometimes as many as three or four years, before they are supposed to. When a team and a player come to a verbal agreement on a bonus, other MLB teams are alerted to the agreement, usually by the player’s trainer informing them that they aren’t going to sign the player. Teams keep track of rival clubs’ bonus allocations both to gauge the market and to assess the total amount of money still available, as well as how much each team has promised to players. This is largely how I’m able to efficiently collect bonus information.

As you check in on these players and do some basic math, it becomes clear that some teams have committed more bonus money than they have to spend. Sometimes a rival team has swooped in with more money for the player and their commitment changes, and sometimes the player has failed a physical, but concerningly, there seem to be a handful of teams that habitually over-commit pool space and then triage prospects later in the process, nixing whichever verbal deals they see as the least favorable. Teams will sometimes renege on their agreements if they think a player has regressed, or if one of their other commits has progressed enough that the team feels compelled to up their offer to prevent another club from swooping in with more money “late” in process. Invariably, some players end up signing for less than the initial amount they agreed to, with no recourse. If I check in with a source who tells me Johnny Shortstop has a verbal deal with the Portland Roses for $2 million, and then six months later I’m told he has a verbal for $1.7 million with the Carolina Reapers, either I was initially misinformed or something happened behind the scenes that caused the change. Across the last three years, as my prep for international coverage has taken on this rhythm, it has become clear there are a few teams whose agreements appear to be less binding than others.

As teams have become aware that other clubs are doing this, some of them have begun to squirrel away money until later in the process so they have the bonus space to approach players whose deals have fallen through when they re-enter the market. In a couple cases this year, players who were allegedly sent back to the market ended up receiving more than their initial commitment because of the supply/demand dynamics at play. Most clubs frown upon breaking verbal agreements (as does your author) even as they all feel free to break the rules around early deals. I do not have an update on the court case outlined in this story, which could set a relevant precedent around this stuff. There has also been no new progress made toward the implementation of an international draft that would parallel the process by which domestic amateurs make their way to pro ball. Such a process would serve as a way to curtail the practice of teams and players agreeing to verbal deals before players are eligible to sign and correct some of the other abuses of the current system, but it would also limit player agency, eliminating prospects’ ability to pick their employer.

Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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3 months ago

Half the list is shortstops and the first pitcher is #24?

3 months ago
Reply to  airforce21one

It’s pretty normal for many young players and top prospects to be shortstops. The idea is have them be a shortstop until they’re on a roster with a better one, and then move them to another position where they have a decent likelihood of being a plus defender. The thought is that shortstop is maybe the hardest position, in terms of both skill and athleticism, so even if they are average or poor at SS, the skills and athleticism can carry over nicely to another infield spot or even the outfield. I guarantee at least half of them end up at another position if/when they debut.

However, the lack of pitchers is very odd.

3 months ago
Reply to  jdowse9

from the article:

There again aren’t many pitchers on the list because it’s rare for teams to funnel seven figures worth of pool space into arms. More and more, teams are signing older, slightly more developed pitchers on the international market with $10,000 and $20,000 bonuses. Teams once mostly targeted younger pitchers, who struggled to develop at the rate the CBA expects them to. That allowed other teams to add pitchers discounted because of their age en masse and then develop them with modern methodologies; this was a boon for Houston, among other clubs. Now it’s a more common approach, so common that Japanese teams have also become active in that segment of the market and are trying to outbid MLB clubs that have gotten used to handing out $10,000 bonuses to 20-year-old arms.”

3 months ago
Reply to  airforce21one

Isn’t it pretty normal for the best 16 and 17 year olds to play SS or CF? Most of them will eventually move down.

3 months ago
Reply to  airforce21one

The pitching is addressed in the article. Identifying which pitchers will develop better at that age is incredibly difficult.

Basically every top prospect is either a SS, CF, or C until proven otherwise. It’s a little more extreme for IFAs than in the draft, but the same dynamic.

3 months ago
Reply to  2wins87

Either that or you can hit the absolute piss out of the ball.

3 months ago
Reply to  2wins87

Ryan Braun was a SS in college

3 months ago
Reply to  airforce21one

Every kid who is good at baseball plays SS, CF, or C. Unless they’re just extraordinarily huge. Pretty much every MLB player played one of those three positions when they were 16.

Phillip Ebarbmember
3 months ago
Reply to  airforce21one

Justin Upton was drafted as an SS out of high school because most kids good enough to sign or be drafted is playing short stop or center field because they are the best player on their team and play the important positions.