After spending nearly $100 million on international prospects during the 2015-2016 signing period, the Los Angeles Dodgers were penalized for two years for going over their allotted bonus pool.
Over the last two signing periods, the Dodgers could not spend more than $300,000 on a single player, which prevented them from competing for many of the top prospects in each class.
That changed this year, as the restrictions were lifted and the Dodgers were free to spend millions on international prospects at the beginning of the new signing period on July 2. With a bonus pool just shy of $5 million, Los Angeles flexed its muscle in Latin America and signed the top prospect in Venezuela, as well as one of the top Dominican Republic pitching prospects.
Catcher Diego Cartaya, ranked universally one of the three best players available and the best according to MLB.com, agreed to terms with the Dodgers and is the franchise’s headliner for this signing period. Just 16, Cartaya has been competing internationally for Venezuela since he was 10 and plays well beyond his years.
Already listed at 6’2″ and 200 lbs, the teenager is praised more for his polish than the brute strength you’d associate with his already mature frame. He’s an advanced hitter for his age, showing patience and solid contact ability, with gap power that should develop into home run power in time.
He has the tools to stick behind the plate, with the arm and athleticism to handle the position, as well as the poise and maturity to handle a pitching staff.
Cartaya is the best international prospect the club has signed since Yadier Alvarez and Yusniel Diaz and will immediately enter the team’s Top 30 prospects. He won’t play in a summer league this year but should debut in 2019 and could reach the states by 2020.
The Dodgers were also attached to another prospect ranked in the top 30 in the class, Dominican right-hander Jerming Rosario, with whom they reached an agreement on a $600,000 bonus.
Rosario, listed at 6’1″ and 175 lbs, has a fastball that already sits around 90 mph and he should add velocity as he fills out his lean frame. His best secondary offering is his changeup, which he throws with confidence and features good velocity separation from his fastball. His curveball shows flashes of being a potential major league offering but it’s inconsistent right now.
Other noteworthy prospects added on signing day include Dominican third baseman Alex De Jesus, who signed for $500,000, Venezuelan shortstop Ender Avendano, and Venezuelan righties Jeremi Rodriguez and Rafael Tua.
With Cartaya and Rosario, the Dodgers have already claimed one of the most promising signing classes in the league. While the returns won’t be immediate, expect to hear their names in coming years and watch for them on top prospect lists.
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