Detroit Tigers International Signing Preview


The Detroit Tigers add a new crop of international players

On Sunday the Detroit Tigers can officially announce their signings for the 2022 international class. The world of international baseball signings, particularly in Latin America, is shady at best, and sometimes outright criminal. Picture pre-NIL college recruiting. Then add in elements of usury, human trafficking, and the general ickiness of child beauty pageants. That gets you about halfway there.

And yet it’s a huge part of modern baseball. The signings teams make tomorrow might directly contribute to championships by the end of the decade. The Tigers will likely add 15-20 players by the end of the signing period, but most of their big signings will come tomorrow.

The Detroit Tigers International Signing Approach

The Tigers have not done well on the international market. They signed Eugenio Suarez in 2007 and Willy Adames in 2012, but both made their marks with other teams. Detroit’s best international player since then is probably Gregory Soto, who was just traded to Philadelphia.

It was a bit surprising to see Tigers president Scott Harris retain the Tigers International Scouting Director Tom Moore, but things do appear to be trending in the right direction. Infielder Cristian Santana (2020 class) and outfielder Roberto Campos (2019 class) are two of the more exciting prospects in Detroit’s system.

For many years the Tigers used a shotgun approach to the international market. They handed out lots of six-figure deals instead of going all-in on a player or two. Only after MLB instituted a hard cap on international spending did the Tigers start shelling out multi-million dollar deals to players like Campos and Santana.

And it looks like Tigers may be returning to their roots this year. Detroit is one of eight teams with the maximum bonus pool ($6,366,900) this international signing period. But the Tigers are the only one of those teams not linked to any players ranked in the top 30 at MLB Pipeline or Baseball America($). They are well represented in the 30-50 range, though.

So let’s take a look at some of the players in this year’s class.

Detroit Tigers International Signings

Detroit’s top prospect in the class appears to be Enrique Jimenez, a switch-hitting catcher from Venezuela. He ranks 32rd on both Pipeline’s list and at Baseball America. Jimenez is a bit smaller, but the scouting reports suggest he’s sturdy and athletic enough to stay behind the plate. There’s some projection with the bat, too, with Baseball America mentioning his short swing and developing gap power.

Cristian Perez is an outfielder from the Dominican Republic who is apparently nicknamed “The Caricature.” He’s extremely young for the class, not turning 17 until August 14th, but he’s already physically impressive. He’s well built and he shows intriguing power potential, and Baseball America also says he’s a good athlete with the speed to play center field.

Baseball America doesn’t have Venezuelan infielder Maikol Orozco on their list, but he ranks 44th to MLB Pipeline. He’s another young player who looks physically advanced, and Pipeline seems to be particularly bullish on his bat.

“There’s a ton of projection with his hit tool in large part because of his advanced approach at the plate and ability to drive the ball to all fields. The ball jumps off of his bat, and he consistently makes hard contact.”

His defense looks a bit rough in the video below, particularly his throws. He seems like more of a second baseman than a shortstop, but there’s plenty of time to work on that.

Toolsy Venezuelan outfielder Anibal Salas doesn’t make Pipeline’s list, but ranks 39th to Baseball America. He’s a switch-hitter with a very strong arm, and Baseball America says he’s a plus runner who has a chance to grow into a power/speed threat.

Our final player is catcher Johan Estrada. He’s not ranked at Pipeline or Baseball America, and no one else has linked him to the Tigers. That makes his signing a WOODWARD SPORTS EXCLUSIVE (air horn). His signing isn’t much of a secret though. The title of the YouTube video below doesn’t leave much to the imagination, and it uploaded more than two months ago. In any event, Estrada appears to be teammates with Maikol Orozco, and he looks like a pretty athletic backstop with some pop in his bat.

We’ll keep you updated if the Tigers make any more big international signings.

Photo Credit: © Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK