Each year, close to 1,000 prospects from across the globe take their first big step toward fulfilling their Major League dreams when they put pens to paper during the international signing period also known as the international draft.
It is a rite of passage for young players from across Latin America and the Caribbean, countries like the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Panama, and Mexico, but also for prospects from places like Australia, the Bahamas, Brazil, Cuba, Curacao, Italy, Taiwan and more.
The international signing period usually begins July 2 and runs through June 15 of the following year. However, for the 2021 International draft, January 15th is the key date to begin signing international prospects.
Who are the top 5 International Draft Prospects?
1) Yoelqui Céspedes, OF, Cuba – The younger half-brother of Mets outfielder Yoenis Céspedes, Yoelqui played for Cuba’s World Baseball Classic and Caribbean Series teams in 2017. While in Cuba, the younger Cespedes was known primarily as a plus runner, a solid defender, and a line-drive hitter who can spray the ball across the outfield. He revamped his swing since defecting last summer, along with adding at least 15 pounds of muscle, and now looks almost exactly like his older brother in the batter’s box.
2) Wilman Diaz, SS, Venezuela – At the plate, Diaz shows a plus hit tool with excellent bat speed and a knack for recognizing pitches. On defense, Diaz shows plus arm potential and plus actions at shortstop. He’s a smooth fielder who can make plays to both sides, and he made a name for himself while playing for Venezuela’s youth teams back home in Aragua.
3) Carloz Colmenarez, SS, Venezuela – The teen has built a reputation as a well-rounded prospect with tons of offensive potential and a chance to display an above-average hit tool with good power in the future. Colmenarez also projects to be a plus shortstop. He’s already an average runner and projects to be above average in the future.
4) Armando Cruz, SS, Dominican Republic – Cruz might be the best defender at any position in this year’s class. He makes a strong case to be the best overall prospect. The top player out of the DR for the 2020-21 international signing period, Cruz can also hit. The right-handed hitter has shown good bat speed and a slight upstroke with his swing. He consistently barrels up the ball. The Nationals have shown strong interest in the teen.
5) Christian Hernandez, SS, Dominican Republic – At 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, the teenager resembles a young Alex Rodriguez and has a build similar to Manny Machado at the same age. His approach and abilities give him a chance to hit for a high batting average and he is expected to have plus power in the future. There’s a belief he could eventually develop into a .300 hitter who can slug 30 or more home runs a year. On defense, he shows plus arm potential with smooth hands and the ability to make plays in the hole and up the middle with equal proficiency. He consistently runs the 60-yard dash in 6.5 seconds.
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