Baseball’s international signing period for 2022 began on January 15th and teams were very active. The Brewers were one of the most active teams on the opening day of the signing period this year.
First, if you’re unfamiliar with the international signing process, here’s an explainer: Teams are assigned bonus pool money they can spend on signing bonuses for international players based on their market size and draft position. The Brewers had $5,721,200 in their bonus pool this year and that’s a hard cap. Teams can sign any international player age 16 or older that’s not subject to the MLB Draft (so anyone not from Canada or Puerto Rico).
Most, if not all, of these players have verbally agreed to deals with teams well in advance of signing day. The international market is essentially free agency as players can choose any team they want as teams try to recruit them, but when recruiting 15 and 16 year old players, there is a lot of risk and projection.
Some big bonus players will never work out, some lesser prospects right now may develop and turn into big prospects and big league players. There’s high variance and very few guarantees of success with any player. Nevertheless, the international market is crucial for teams to build their farm systems and organizations. It’s where you can find superstars like Juan Soto, Wander Franco, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Vlad Guerrero Jr.
Some teams opt for the quality over quantity approach, going all in on big signing bonuses for one or two players and using up most of their bonus pool on them. The Nationals were one such team. The Brewers, however, employed a different approach.
The Milwaukee Brewers chose to go with a quantity approach, signing a whopping 33 players to minor league contracts on the opening day of the 2022 international signing period.
While there are a couple prospects seen as higher quality players, the Brewers spread their available money around to sign over 30 players to deals on Saturday.
The Brewers do run two teams in the Dominican Summer League and two teams in the Arizona Complex League. David Stearns loves having depth throughout his organization and that means having as many minor leaguers under contract as they can possibly have. They need to keep those low level rosters filled and continue to try to find the next wave of talent and this is a great way to do it.
The two prospects at the top of this class are Jhonny Severino and Johan Barrios, who we’ve taken a more in-depth look at already on the site. Both are ranked in the Top 25 international prospects according to both MLB Pipeline and Baseball America.
There’s another Top 50 prospect in this class according to Baseball America and that’s outfielder Luis Lara from Venezuela (no relation to former Brewers prospect Gilbert Lara). Lara has grown a few inches over the last year or so, but is still on the smaller side at around 5’9″, but he has double-plus speed, a strong throwing arm, and is a switch-hitter. He may not hit for much home run power, but he hits the ball hard and makes plenty of contact, so there’s tools to work with.
There are some other players in this class that stand out to me. Reminton Batista is an outfielder from the Dominican Republic is 5’10” and a switch hitter with plenty of power. LHP Anthony Flores is from Venezuela and reportedly has a big curveball. Roman Perez is the oldest signee of this group at 21 years old out of the Dominican Republic and stands at 6’4″. He’s one of the few who could receive an aggressive assignment to move quickly through the system.
Another player that seems intriguing is Francisco Nina, a 17 year old outfielder from the Dominican Republic who is already 6’5″ tall. He’s just 175 pounds so there’s plenty of room to fill out that frame, but at that size there’s likely some power in Nina’s bat that the Brewers are going to try to tap into.
The unfortunate thing for fans interested in these prospects and the international signing period is that there’s very little information about a large chunk of these players. We don’t know much about most of these players outside of their names, heights, weights, handedness, and hometowns that are listed in the press releases.
In all likelihood, some of these players will never even reach the rookie level Arizona Complex League. Fewer will reach full season ball in Low-A, and even fewer will reach the upper levels of the minors. Perhaps one or two will make the big leagues one day, but we really can’t expect much more than that. Anything above that is just gravy.
These players are very young and a long ways away from the bright lights of American Family Field. They have a lot of development to go and we’ll start to get a sense of which players have a real shot at advancing up the ladder later this year when we see them play in the Dominican Summer League.
While the international signing period doesn’t close until December 15th, the Brewers have pretty much completed their international class, as has every other organization. There may be a few signings scattered throughout the year, as bonuses under $10,000 do not count against the bonus pool.