It has been a busy few days for the Detroit Tigers as they secured three players in the MLB Pipeline Top 50 international prospects list. The hope with any of these signings that they will be household names down the line. Recently, the Tigers have made progress with prospects like Roberto Campos, Cristian Santana and Manuel Sequera, who led the FSL in doubles (28) and finished second in home runs with 19.
The next step is if that progress can turn into results. From a positional player standpoint, since 2010, the Tigers have not had an international signing on the 40-man roster who managed to be an average big leaguer for more than two seasons. Average here is defined as having a Baseball-Reference WAR of at least 2.0. While Harold Castro spent four seasons here in Detroit, the highest WAR he produced was 0.3.
2023 Detroit Tigers International Signings (updated as of 1/19/2022)
Jimenez received the largest bonus at $1,250,000, followed by Cristian Perez at $1,100,000 and Salas, who received $1,000,000. While some Tigers fans may be fixated on not having a player signed in the Top 30 of the class, Tom Moore, the Director of International Scouting for the Tigers, had this to say about the lists.
“I can use Willy Adames as an example. He fell, I would say somewhere in the 45 to 50 range in terms overall signing bonuses.
And right now the, if you look at overall WAR, he’s the top of that signing class.”
During Al Avila’s tenure there were a few draft picks and signings who worked out, but until they made changes in the development staff there weren’t many strides in developing talent outside of the top draft picks. However, it appears at least on the international side that Wenceel Perez, who was just added to the 40-man roster, may see some time at the big league level.
He posted a wRC+ of 143 both at West Michigan and Erie last season. His Erie slash line of .307/.374/.540 with an .ISO (isolated power) of .233 stands out. If a hitters posts a .200 or better ISO in the minors, that is a good sign of potential power to come.
This will be a big year for prospects like Campos and Santana. If they start the year in West Michigan and show good progress again, then Detroit Tigers fans may be able to witness the payoff sooner than later.