The new international signing period begins Tuesday (July 2) and the Dodgers have been tied to one player who could garner a bonus of more than a million bucks.
Lucas Tirado, a shortstop from the Dominican Republic, is the guy the Dodgers reportedly have an eye on. Kiley McDaniel of Scouting Baseball projects the Dodgers to ink Tirado to a $1.2 million bonus. He also ranks Tirado as the 14th-best prospect available.
Tirado, 16, is a shortstop for now, but Matt Garrioch of Minor League Ball thinks he might have to move off the position eventually. He lists second base and left field as possibilities. I’d be perfectly fine if Tirado ended up as a second baseman.
Garrioch also had this to say about Tirado:
“Interesting hitter. Polished. Not sure he can stick at SS. Might be a LF/2B.”
Tirado’s a lefty swinger with decent bat speed. He isn’t the fleetest of foot, which could lead to a position change. Tirado’s hit tool is his best, with everything else grading out as average in the future (at best).
Tirado won’t be 17 until Dec. 13. At 6’2, 175 pounds, he’ll fill out physically, which could also determine his long-term position.
For what it's worth: Ben Badler of Baseball America doesn't have Tirado ranked in his Top 30 international prospects list. Badler is one of the foremost authorities when it comes to international players, but he isn't the be-all, end-all, either. Also, he didn't have Julio Urias ranked in his Top 20 last year (hat tip to Jared Massey).
I don’t think Tirado is a future star, but, if his development goes according to plan, could be an everyday player in the majors in a handful of years.
Here's some video of the youngster.
The Dodgers have $2,112,900 to spend on international talent this year. That’s down from the $2.9 million they had last year. Badler reported on Wednesday the Dodgers are among a handful of teams looking to trade for more international cap space (trading for cap space explained here by Badler).
The fact the Dodgers could commit more than half of their available pool to one guy -- who isn’t even regarded as the top two or three guys available -- says one of two things:
- The Dodgers are really high on this guy
- They will acquire more cap space
I won’t question the Dodgers’ methods, as they’ve gotten back into the international market by signing roughly 46 players since the new ownership group took over in May 2012.
The team made waves last year by signing Yasiel Puig and Hyun-Jin Ryu -- neither of whom counted toward the cap spending limit. The Dodgers are interested in a couple other guys who fall into this category this year: right-handed pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez (26 years old) and outfielder Dariel Alvarez (23) -- both of whom are Cuban defectors.
I wrote about Gonzalez for Yahoo! Sports last week. The Dodgers should go all out for this guy. He could pitch in the majors this season and profiles as a middle-of-the-rotation guy long-term.
“Gonzalez has fastball that sits in the low-90s and routinely touches 94-95 MPH. He also has a changeup, curveball, cut-fastball and the rare forkball. Dodger fans remember a great forkball thrown by Hideo Nomo oh so many years ago.
Many believe Gonzalez is near-MLB ready. He might need a month or so in the minors to get back into the rhythm, but he should pitch in the majors this season. He profiles as a middle-of-the-rotation starter with No.2 upside.”
Alvarez would be a nice get for nothing other than depth, because the last thing the Dodgers need is more MLB-ready outfielders. But I’d rather the Dodgers focus efforts elsewhere.
It should be an interesting signing year. I want the Dodgers to acquire more cap space after a lackluster draft. Chris Anderson is the only player with impact potential from the Dodgers’ 2013 draft.
These international prospects -- save Gonzalez and Alvarez (to a certain extent) -- are lottery tickets. If the Dodgers hit on just one per year, the investment will have been well worth it.