In addition to limiting the amount of money that each organization may spend during the First-Year Player Draft (Rule IV Draft) in June, Major League Baseball’s latest collective bargaining agreement also ushered in new international spending restrictions this past summer.
Rather than spending freely as in previous years, each organization is allotted $2.9 million to spend on international free agents, and as a result, are subject to penalties if the total is exceeded.
The current international signing period doesn’t expire until June 15, 2013, so there should be several more notable signings this offseason and into the spring.
Here’s a look at five prospects who could draw serious interest in the coming months.
Richard Urena, SS, Dominican Republic (16)
At 6’1”, 160 pounds, Urena is a plus-defensive shortstop with an impressive blend of tools and present skills. A left-handed hitter, he’s still incredibly raw at the plate, though his hitting tools does suggest above-average potential.
Melvin Novoa, C, Venezuela (16)
The 6’, 190-pound backstop has the potential to be an offensive-oriented catcher with present strength and above-average bat speed.
Gabby Vizcaino, RHP, Dominican Republic (16)
Although he’s undersized at 6’, 165 pounds, the right-hander has a big arm that already pumps fastballs in the low-to-mid-90s, as well as an early feel for both a slider and changeup.
Luis Gohara, LHP, Brazil (16)
He has received significant exposure relative to most Latin American prospects but could command a decent contract after consistently registering in the low-90s this past season.
Joaquin De La Cruz, 3B, Dominican Republic (17)
With a projectable, 6’3”, 170-pound frame, De La Cruz showcases impressive bat speed from the right side of the plate, as well as solid instincts defensively.