Angels open 2024 International Signing Period with highly-touted prospect

The Angels signed 15 players on the opening day of the period, including seven from the Dominican Republic, six from Venezuela, and two from Panama.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — An annual day of celebration, the 2024 international signing period opened on Monday morning.

Young players from Latin American, South American, Oceania, Asian, and European countries signed contracts with Major League teams that kickstart their careers as Major Leaguers, with some of those deals being in place for multiple years.

The rules are relatively simple for which players are eligible to sign during the international signing period: Players who live outside of the United States, Puerto Rico, or Canada that are not enrolled in high schools in those regions who turn 16 prior to September 1 of their signing year are eligible.

Teams are allotted a specific bonus pool that they can spend on amateur international free agents, with any expenditures excess of the bonus pool being taxed with various penalties. Players who sign for $10,000 or less would not go towards the pool, but any signing bonus figure over $10,000 will have the full bonus go towards the pool (example: if a player signs for $10,001, it would not be $1 that goes towards the bonus pool, but the full $10,001.)

Players who play in professional leagues outside of the United States must be 25 years old or have played in six seasons of professional baseball to be acknowledged as Major League free agents, and without these qualifications, would have their bonuses included in the amateur international bonus pools. Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, clubs are subject to a spending cap for amateur international free agents. Teams are permitted to acquire 60% of their initial pools via trades during the signing period in increments of $250,000, unless the trading team has under $250,000 in their remaining bonus pool funds.

The Angels signed 15 players on the opening day of the period, including seven from the Dominican Republic, six from Venezuela, and two from Panama, all aged 17-years-old or younger.

An emphasis for the Angels during this signing period, and with recent signing classes with Brian Parker as the Angels Director of Amateur Scouting, has been a focus on the hit tool and defense for position players, and strike-throwing and easy mechanics giving starter traits for pitchers.

Below is a brief report on 13 of the 15 players with notes on signing bonuses, excluding players from Venezuela who may have public financial records place a threat upon themselves or their families due to the current state of crime in the nation, at the request of the clubs and agents for the players.

Following the brief reports will be a look towards the 2025 signing class for the Angels, and the current expense report based on estimations from finances shared in privacy with The Sporting Tribune.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Example of players ranked via media outlets — though evaluation has improved due to the addition of advanced data on the amateur circuit, rankings of players for each class can be fickle. Looking at MLB Pipeline, who has been among the best in the industry at ranking amateur players for an extended period of time, from the years 2012-2018 as to cover any player who would be Rule-5 eligible entering the 2023/24 winter, only 29 of the 66 players ranked in their annual top 10 (some players ranked in multiple years). Of the remaining 37 who have not reached the Majors, 27 never played above Double-A, including three who never surpassed rookie ball. Evaluation, and rankings for that matter, can be a challenging business, so just because a player is ranked highly by a media affiliate does not mean they are guaranteed to become a superstar.

On average from the MLB Pipeline’s top 10 ranked amateur international prospects from 2012-2018, position players average 3.0 FWAR per 162 games, while pitchers average 2.2 fWAR per 150 innings pitched, which would be called a success but comes with the caveat that most of those come from the All-Star caliber players in the likes of Gleyber Torres, Rafael Devers, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Luis Robert, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Shohei Ohtani, Wander Franco, and Julio Rodriguez. Among the 29 Major Leaguers who fit the rankings qualifications, 20 have not accumulated more than two WAR over their careers, with 12 posting negative analytical value in their careers.

Players placed in alphabetical order by last name:

Hayden Alvarez, OF, Dominican Republic: Receiving the second highest signing bonus among 2024 signees for the Angels at $685,000, Hayden Alvarez is a tall, athletic, right-handed hitting outfielder with a great six-foot-two, 180-pound frame. A solid center fielder, he may physically outgrow the position, while his athleticism and speed will make him an above-average defender in the outfield no matter which position he patrols. Alvarez makes consistent contact at the plate, with rare swing-and-miss, with hopes of tapping into some power and being a well-rounded hitter at a premium position.

Jhostin Betances, RHP, Dominican Republic: A young right-handed pitcher from the Dominican Republic that signed for around $100,000, Jhostin Betances oozes projection with his six-foot-two frame and on-mound athleticism. Showing a clean arm stroke and athleticism, Betances has a solid rotation foundation though his arsenal will need improvements. He will mostly work in the mid-to-upper 80’s with his fastball.

Jose Camacho, C, Venezuela: A lower-money catcher from Venezuela, Jose Camacho is an interesting catch-and-throw, offense-oriented catcher who has some defensive skillset.

Daniel Colina, RHP, Venezuela: A premier strike-thrower, Daniel Colina shows starter actions with a mid 80’s fastball and feel for a pretty good changeup. He is working on incorporating a breaking ball.

Greylin de la Paz, SS, Dominican Republic: Receiving the third largest bonus from the Angels for the 2024 signing period at $575,000, Greylin de la Paz is a stronger and thicker infielder with power projection that is young for the class. A shortstop now who will see time across the infield, his defensive projection is more suited for second or third base where his power bat would profile. Using a strong lower half, de la Paz has some leverage in his swing that permits power over hit in its current state. More of a raw and athletic product, he may have a lengthy development with hopes of a power infield bat.

Dioris de la Rosa, RHP, Dominican Republic: The top pitcher in terms of signing bonus for the Angels in 2024, Dioris de la Rosa is a big and strong right-handed pitcher with a workhorse frame at six-foot-four and 190-pounds. Working upwards of 92 with his fastball, his size and current velocity project as a power arm who will flash a sluve-like breaking ball. He has thrown strikes as an amateur with a standard three-pitch mix and easy mechanics leaning to a rotation outlook as he gets into a pitching routine and continues his physical development. Of note, his bonus of around $300,000 would be the third highest the Angels have given to an internaitonal amateur in the last decade, behind Nixon Encarnacion (500K) and Ricardo Sanchez ($565K) without the caveat of Shohei Ohtani being a two-way player who received a $2.315M signing bonus.

Wilberson de Pena, OF, Dominican Republic: Signing for around $50,000, Wilberson de Pena was signed as an outfielder, though he spent parts of his time as an amateur in the middle infield, and is seen as a super utility type. Playing shortstop as an amateur, de Pena looks more like a third baseman on the dirt at the next level, and has above-average defensive projection in the outfield with a chance at playing center field. Though he does not possess flashy tools, de Pena is well liked by scouts for his in-game skillset where he can hit and play defense as well as his counterparts and alter games in a “grinding” style who is described simply as a “good ballplayer”. There is some physical projection in his six-foot-two, 180-pound frame.

Jhasir Flores, RHP, Panama: No Report Available

Fabian Gallardo, RHP, Venezuela: A lower-bonus signee, Fabian Gallardo is a loose and athletic right-handed pitcher with a tall six-foot-three frame. He will throw strikes with an 86-89 mph fastball. His strike-throwing and on-mound athleticism give him some starter projection if his arsenal improves.

Kauriel Leon, RHP, Dominican Republic: No Report Available

Joswa Lugo, SS, Dominican Republic: The top signee for the Angels for the 2024 signing period, Joswa Lugo is a highly regarded offense-first shortstop. Currently a shortstop who moves well and shows the actions for the premium defensive position, his six-foot-three and physical frame may move him to third base where he has the defensive tools to project him as an above-average defender and give little doubt of projecting the left side of the infield. Offensively, Lugo has a strong instinctual foundation making for professional at bats, making freqent hard contact to all fields. Wih a trim, athletic, and strong frame, with above-average bat speed, Lugo has a chance at getting to big power as he develops. Some scouts compare his skillset and swing to Reds prospect, Noelvi Marte. His older brother, Dawel, played 113 games with the Detroit Tigers from 2018-2020, though Joswa projects differently from his brother due to his frame and offensive upside. Lugo reportedly signed with the Angels for $2.3 million, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America, which would represent the third highest bonus given to an international player by the Angels on public record, trailing only Shohei Ohtani who received $2.315 million in 2017, and Roberto Baldoquin who received $8 million in 2014, though the report of his bonus figure has not been confirmed.

Cristopher Montilla, RHP, Venezuela: A loose and athletic right-handed pitcher, Cristopher Montilla received the second highest bonus among pitchers from the Angels for the 2024 signing class. A solid strike-thrower with a clean delivery and good arm action, Montilla will flash three pitches and work mostly in the upper 80’s with his fastball, with his velocity trending up, giving confidence to starter projection as he gets into a consistent throwing program.

Marlon Quintero, C, Panama: Receiving a modest $20-25K signing bonus, Marlon Quintero is a solid backstop from Panama known for his defensive skillset. A bit undersized, Quintero is more of a line drive hitter who shows more gap power than over the fence prowess.

Manuel Silva, OF, Venezuela: A good left-handed hitting center fielder, Manuel Silva makes a lot of contact, hitting the ball hard but with minimal power.

Humberto Tiberi, C, Venezuela: The top catching signee for the Angels in 2024, and one of the best amateur backstops in Venezuela, Humberto Tiberi shows more of an offensive profile as a catcher who received a significant bonus. A taller kid, Tiberi is a tall and bulky catcher who may turn into an average defender based on his catch-and-throw skillset, though his defense may come with lengthy development. Using his size, Tiberi has grown into some power and may fit a corner profile if catching isn’t part of his future.

2025 Expected Signees: One of the priority-signees for the Angels in 2025 will be catcher, Gabriel Davalillo from Venezuela. Davalillo is an offense-first catcher who is almost an average defensive catcher in his current state but shows immense offensive and power upside with the bat carrying his top-ranking prospect status for the class. Sebastion Pinto, a right-handed hitting outfielder, is a solid athlete who can play all three outfield spots and with a solid feel for hitting and ability to drive the ball to all fields. Junior Suriel, a Dominican outfielder, is a true center fielder who makes a lot of hard contact with questions about his power projection. Wilfry Vasquez, a left-handed hitting center fielder, is a plus defender in center fielder with plus-plus speed, with focus on his bat through development. Jose Santana, a line-drive hitting Dominican shortstop, has legitimate longterm projection at the premium defensive position, who needs strength gains to his solid frame to tap into any offensive upside.

REMAINING FUNDS: With a bonus pool of $5,152,200, the Angels spent near 70% of their pool on their top three signees: Joswa Lugo, Hayden Alvarez, and Greylin de la Paz. Based on generalized signing bonus figures from industry sources and agents shared in privacy with The Sporting Tribune for the protection of the players and organizations, the Angels have roughly $350,000 to $400,000 remaining in their bonus pool. In past years, the Angels have held some surplus of their bonus pool to give players after the start of the signing period which ends one month prior to the next beginning — in this scenario, December 2024. Examples of this would be Cuban-born players who were declared free agents by MLB in the likes of Edgar Quero, Edgar Alfonso, Jorge Marcheco, Anthony Scull, and Francis Texido, all of whom signed for anywhere between $30,000 and $250,000. One player who has been linked externally to the Angels, and unconfirmed by the club, that went unsigned at the start of the signing period was Cuban outfielder Alexander Lamontana, though as noted, the club has not confirmed interest.