How did Red Sox wind up signing Venezuelan shortstop prospect Marvin Alcantara? Eddie Romero explains

According to Baseball America, the Red Sox have signed 16 international free agents since the 2022 signing window opened last Saturday.

Among the 16 prospects signed thus far, Dominican shortstops Fraymi de Leon and Freili Encarnacion and Venezuelan catcher Johanfran Garcia stick out as the headliners since they received attention from either Baseball America or MLB Pipeline.

With that being said, though, there may be another shortstop the Red Sox signed out of Venezuela who is worthy of some recognition as well. His name? Marvin Alcantara.

In a recent conversation with The Athletic’s Chad Jennings, Red Sox executive vice president and assistant general manager Eddie Romero identified Alcantara as someone that was not necessarily getting a ton of attention from other teams, but was still doing some eye-opening things on the field.

More specifically, it was the team’s Venezuelan area scout — Alex Requena — who made the case for Boston to sign Alcantara. Requena, per Romero, saw that Alcantara was a confident infielder who made solid contact at the plate, was an average runner on the base paths, and had the ability to play shortstop and second base if needed.

“Just pounding the table for him,” Romero said of Requena’s interest in Alcantara when speaking with Jennings. “He’s one of these guys that the crosscheck group really didn’t get to see much, but he made it to signing day and our area scout was just like, ‘You need to sign this guy!’”

And so the Red Sox did sign Alcantara for a reported $30,000, according to MLB.com. The right-handed hitter is one of eight prospects Boston has added out of Venezuela so far this winter.

As noted by Jennings, however, the $30,000 Alcantara has reportedly signed for represents less than 0.6 percent of the $5,179,700 in signing bonus pool space the Sox have to work with this year. The signing period opened on January 15 and does not close until mid-December.

“The signing class isn’t made on January 15,” said Romero. “The signing class is really made throughout the year when you have some more of these flexible signings. … We hammer the passed over and the (overlooked players) just as much as we do trying to make sure we’re on top of the premium, priority players in each class.”

The Red Sox will hope the modest price they paid for Alcantara’s services will prove to be even more of a bargain in the long run. In the interim, the 17-year-old is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 season — and his professional career — in the Dominican Summer League.

(Picture of Eddie Romero: Angela Rowlings/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

Red Sox sign Venezuelan catching prospect Johanfran Garcia

Saturday marked the opening of the 2021-2022 international signing window across Major League Baseball. The Red Sox have been as active as any team and have signed six players thus far, according to Baseball America signing agreement tracker.

Of those six players, catching prospect Johanfran Garcia may stand out above the rest.

Garcia, who turned 17 last month, will sign with Boston for approximately $650,000, per MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. The native of Venezuela is the younger brother of Red Sox outfield prospect Jhostynxon Garcia, who originally signed with the club in July 2019.

Listed at 6-foot and 205 pounds, Garcia came into 2022 regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 34 overall prospect in this year’s class, ranking fifth among catchers in the publication’s top-50 list.

On the 20-80 scouting scale, MLB Pipeline grades the right-handed hitting backstop’s hit tool at 50, his power tool at 55, his run tool at 45, and his arm tool at 50.

“Garcia is built like Yadier Molina,” his MLB Pipeline scouting report reads. “He’s husky, strong and extremely durable. And while he could eventually develop into an all-around defender like Yadier, Garcia is better known for his bat over his defense at this stage of his career.

“The teen simply has a great feel for hitting and performs well at the plate in games and showcases,” it continues. “He has displayed the ability to spray the ball all over the field with authority and has what has been described as ‘sneaky’ pull power to his pull side.

“He’s no slouch on defense. He has average hands and projects to have an average arm. He moves well behind the plate and continues to work on his blocking and receiving skills.” 

In addition to Garcia, the Red Sox have also inked shortstops Fraymi De Leon, Freili Encarnacion, Jancel Santana, Yosander Asencio (Dominican Republic), and Marvin Alcantara (Venezuela), outfielder Natanael Yuten (Dominican Republic), left-hander Inmer Lobo (Venezuela) and right-handers Willian Colmenares and Denison Sanchez (Venezuela).

Boston has $5,179,700 to work with in terms of their international amateur bonus pool. Any player they sign for $10,000 or less does not count against the cap as this year’s signing window runs through December 15.

(Picture of JetBlue Park: Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Red Sox expected to sign pair of Dominican shortstops when international signing period opens this weekend

When the 2021-2022 international signing period opens this weekend, the Red Sox are expected to add some young and intriguing infield depth to their farm system.

According to Baseball America’s Ben Badler, Boston is in line to sign a pair of shortstops from the Dominican Republic in Fraymi De Leon and Freili Encarnacion beginning on January 15.

De Leon, who turned 17 in September, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 32 overall prospect and one of the best defensive shortstops in this year’s international signing class.

Listed at 5-foot-11 and 157 pounds, De Leon is a natural switch hitter who still has room to grow physically when it comes to adding strength. Per his Baseball America scouting report, De Leon is “a quick-twitch athlete who is light on his feet with smooth actions and good body control at shortstop. [He] has soft hands, a strong arm and good instincts, reading the ball well off the bat with a good internal clock for his age.”

MLB Pipeline, on the other hand, has De Leon penciled in as their 50th-ranked international prospect, noting that the teen is “already a fringe-to-average runner” who possesses “solid defensive actions and a decent arm that should keep him” at shortstop.

Turning to Encarnacion now, the 16-year-old infielder comes in as Baseball America’s No. 37 international prospect. Like De Leon, Encarnacion hails from Santo Domingo but is listed at a taller 6-goot-2 and 175 pounds.

Per Badler, Encarnacion “is strong for his age” and “an offensive-minded infielder who drives the ball with impact for extra-base and over-the-fence juice.

“He’s not a dead pull hitter either, with a sound approach for his age and the ability to hit to all fields,” adds Badler. “Encarnacion has trained as a shortstop, though he might end up sliding over to third base.”

Encarnacion, who actually turns 17 in a little over two weeks, hits from the right side of the plate. He is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 19 prospect in this year’s signing class and is described as a special individual with a great demeanor who is also consistent, confident, and one of the top hitters on the international market.

“He has shown the ability to spray the ball across the outfield, and has a knack for squaring up the ball and driving it up the middle,” Encarnacion’s MLB Pipeline scouting report reads. “On defense, he shows good hands, a plus arm potential and will have a chance to stay at shortstop. He could still make the switch to third base if he outgrows the position.” 

At the moment, it’s unclear how much either De Leon or Encarnacion will sign with the Red Sox for. However, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports that Boston will have approximately $5,179,700 to work with when it comes to their bonus signing pool.

(Picture of JetBlue Park: Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Red Sox catching prospect Enderso Lira ‘showed promise both offensively and defensively’ in Dominican Summer League last year

Of the 30 free agents the Red Sox have signed during the 2020-2021 international signing period, only one is listed as a catcher.

That catching prospect would be none other than Enderso Lira, who signed with Boston for approximately $850,000 last winter, making him the second-highest paid member of the club’s international signing class behind only Miguel Bleis.

At the time of his signing, Lira — then 17 — was heralded by Baseball America as one of the top young catchers to come out of Venezuela. With the help of signing scout Angel Escobar, he officially inked his first professional contract on January 15 and subsequently made his way to the Sox’ Dominican academy in El Toro.

A little less than six months after signing, Lira made his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League on July 13 — batting third and starting behind the plate for the DSL Red Sox Red affiliate in their contest against the DSL Royals Blue.

From that point forward, the right-handed hitting backstop proceeded to slash .246/.414/.336 with seven doubles, three triples, 15 RBIs, 16 runs scored, one stolen base, 32 walks, and 18 strikeouts over 41 games spanning 162 plate appearances.

Among hitters in the Dominican Summer League who made at least 160 trips to the plate last year, Lira ranked 10th in walk percentage (19.8%), 17th in strikeout percentage (11.1%), 26th in on-base percentage, and 57th in wRC+ (125), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, 32 of Lira’s 41 appearances last season came at catcher. In the process of logging 246 2/3 innings behind the plate, the San Felipe native was credited with 225 putouts, 34 assists, eight errors committed, three double plays turned, and four passed balls allowed. He also threw out 27 of the 70 (39%) of the base runners who attempted to steal against him.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, Lira — like most prospects his age — still has plenty of room to grow both on and off the field. The 18-year-old is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 32 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks fourth among catchers in the organization.

Back in September, SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall identified Lira as “the most intriguing position player prospect in the DSL” besides the aforementioned Bleis.

“Lira has a great frame for a catcher, with projection remaining, and is athletic enough that one scout suggested to me he could even handle third base if he outgrows catcher,” Cundall wrote. “He has looked good behind the plate though and has an above-average arm already.

“Offensively, he has a very advanced approach for his age,” added Cundall. “His swing is short and direct, and he has quick hands. Right now, he mostly hits hard line drives, but he should grow into some power in the future, especially given his frame.”

As alluded to by Cundall, the Red Sox have had a tough time as of late when it comes to developing catchers. The additions of Lira and 2021 fifth-round draft pick Nathan Hickey could change the club’s fortunes in that area, though.

On that note, Lira — who does not turn 19 until October — is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 season as the Sox’ top backstop in the Florida Complex League.

(Picture of Enderso Lira via his Instagram)

Reviewing the 2021 season Red Sox outfield prospect Miguel Bleis had in the Dominican Summer League

With the 2021-2022 international signing period opening later this week, now feels like as good as time as any to look back at what the Red Sox were doing around this time last year.

It was one year ago next Saturday when the Sox made Miguel Bleis the highest-paid member of their 2020-2021 international signing class, as they inked the Dominican-born outfield prospect to a lucrative $1.8 million deal.

Officially signed by Jonathan Cruz on January 15, Bleis received plenty of praise heading into his first season in the pro ranks.

In an appearance on the SoxProspects.com podcast in February, Red Sox executive vice president and assistant general manager Eddie Romero described Bleis as “premium center field talent” who possesses all five tools and is “extremely exciting.”

After celebrating his 17th birthday in March and continuing to develop at the club’s academy in El Toro, Bleis made his highly-anticipated professional debut in the Dominican Summer League on July 27.

Across 36 games spanning 136 plate appearances for the DSL Red Sox Red affiliate, the right-handed hitting outfielder batted a solid .252/.331/.420 to go along with six doubles, one triple, four home runs, 17 RBIs, 17 runs scored, seven stolen bases, 12 walks, and 25 strikeouts.

When going up against right-handed pitching, Bleis slashed .269/.361/.398. Against left-handed pitching those numbers dipped down to .095/.091/.238, though it was a much more limited sample.

Among hitters in the Dominican Summer League who racked up at least 130 trips to the plate last year, Bleis ranked 65th in slugging percentage, 53rd in isolated power (.168), and 160th in wRC+ (109), per FanGraphs.

On the other side of the ball, Bleis made all 34 of his defensive appearances in center field in 2021. He committed a total of four errors and recorded seven outfield assists as well as one double play while logging 245 1/3 innings at the position.

Currently listed at 6-foot-3 and 170 pounds, Bleis obviously still has room to grow both physically and developmentally. The San Pedro de Macoris native does not turn 18 for another two months.

Taking that sort of projection into consideration, SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall wrote back in September that even though Bleis “is still early in his career,” he has already garnered positive reviews from scouts. One scout even told Cundall that Bleis “is the real deal.”

Coming into the new year, Bleis is presently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 20 prospect in Boston’s farm system. He is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 campaign in the rookie-level Florida Complex League in Fort Myers and would presumably attract a lot of attention going stateside.

(Picture: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Red Sox outfield prospect Jhostynxon Garcia coming off solid debut season in Dominican Republic; 19-year-old is projected to begin 2022 in Florida Complex League

The Red Sox had many standout prospects who played for one of their two Dominican Summer League affiliates last season. This piece in particular will focus on outfielder Jhostynxon Garcia, who suited up for the DSL Red Sox’ Blue squad.

Garcia began the year as the team’s Opening Day centerfielder against the DSL Royals White on July 12. He went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in that particular contest, but really picked it up from there.

Over 45 games, the right-handed hitter batted an impressive .281/.424/.481 to go along with seven doubles, four triples, four home runs, 27 RBIs, 36 runs scored, five stolen bases, 33 walks, and 32 strikeouts across 172 plate appearances in what was his debut season.

Among hitters in the Dominican Summer League who accrued at least 170 plate appearances in 2021, Garcia ranked 12th in triples, 11th in walk percentage (19.2%), 14th in on-base percentage, 18th in slugging percentage, 14th in OPS (.905), 13th in isolated power (.200), and 12th in wRC+ (153), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Garcia played all over the outfield last season. Despite having some experience at shortstop as an amateur, the 6-foot-3, 163 pounder logged 172 1/3 innings in which he recorded one outfield assist and zero errors in center field and logged 110 1/3 innings in which he recorded three outfield assists, zero errors, and one double play in right field.

Garcia, who just turned 19 last month, originally signed with the Red Sox out of San Fernando de Apure for $350,000 back in July 2019. At that time, Baseball America reported that Garcia — then 16 — was “a well-rounded player and one of the better pure hitters this year in Venezuela.”

At present, Garcia is regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 60 prospect in Boston’s farm system. In September, SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall wrote that the young outfielder “will show some of the loudest tools on the DSL Red Sox, but he is raw at present with strikeout potential.

“He is passive at the plate and his swing is pull-heavy, but when he makes contact, he hits the ball hard and has power potential,” added Cundall. “In the outfield, he has decent instincts, which he needs to make up for his lack of pure speed.”  

Considering that he is coming off a relatively successful first professional season, Garcia is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 campaign with the rookie-level Florida Complex League Red Sox in Fort Myers.

While he still has plenty of room to grow both physically and developmentally, it appears as though Garcia has the athleticism and upside to emerge as an intriguing prospect once he gets settled into the states.

(Picture of Jhostynxon Garcia via his Instagram)

Who is Juan Daniel Encarnacion? Red Sox pitching prospect posted 2.96 ERA in Florida Complex League in 2021, is projected to begin 2022 season at Low-A Salem

While Wilkelman Gonzalez may have stood out above the rest in the Florida Complex League last summer, the year fellow Red Sox pitching prospect Juan Daniel Encarnacion put together in 2021 should not be forgotten about, either.

Encarnacion, who turns 21 in March, made 12 appearances — 10 of which were starts — for the FCL Red Sox after being assigned to the rookie-level affiliate out of minor-league spring training.

In those dozen outings centered around the Fort Myers-area, the young right-hander posted a 2.96 ERA and 4.03 xFIP to go along with 56 strikeouts to 11 walks over 45 2/3 total innings of work.

Among the 15 pitchers who accrued at least 40 innings in the Florida Complex League last year, Encarnacion ranked fourth in innings pitched, first in strikeouts, first in strikeouts per nine innings (11.04), fourth in walks per nine innings (2.17), first in strikeout rate (30.3%), fourth in walk rate (5.9%), fourth in batting average against (.199), first in WHIP (0.99), second in ERA, and first in xFIP, per FanGraphs.

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds in the team’s media guide, Encarnacion originally signed with the Red Sox for just $40,000 out of San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic in September 2018.

He made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League the following year and wound up leading the team in both starts (14) and strikeouts (49) before heading off to fall instructs.

After the 2020 minor-league season was wiped out due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Encarnacion returned to fall instructs and showed some flashes of potential there while making preparations for the 2021 campaign.

Between the time fall instructs ended and the ’21 FCL season began, the 20-year-old hurler’s velocity “increased from 88-91 mph to 90-93 mph,” SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall wrote in September.

Cundall noted that Encarnacion’s breaking ball “flashed average in a recent start and he also showed a changeup” while adding that “his best attribute right now is his control, as he throws a lot of strikes and shows some feel for command.” 

Despite his aforementioned height and weight listed in the Red Sox’ media guide, Cundall writes that Encarnacion “has some projection remaining in his 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame.”

On that note, SoxProspects.com projects that Encarnacion will begin the 2022 season alongside Gonzalez at Low-A Salem. Unlike Gonzalez, though, Encarnacion will not become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft until the end of 2023.

(Picture of Juan Daniel Encarnacion: Bryan Green/Flickr)

Red Sox prospects Jose Ramirez, Giancarlos Santana making strides in Dominican Summer League

Earlier this week, Red Sox pitching prospect Jose Ramirez put together yet another quality outing for one of the club’s Dominican Summer League affiliates.

Over five strong innings of work against the DSL Marlins on Monday, Ramirez kept the opposition off the scoreboard while allowing just one hit and no walks to go along with three strikeouts on the afternoon.

Needing just 40 pitches — 31 of which were strikes — to get through those five scoreless frames, the young right-hander wound up facing the minimum 15 batters, as he worked his way around a leadoff single in the fifth inning by inducing a 5-4-3 double play that was followed by an inning-ending groundout.

Later earning the win in what would go down as a 2-1 road victory for the DSL Red Sox, Ramirez improved to 3-0 on the season while lowering his ERA on the year to a miniscule 0.33.

In addition to posting a 0.33 ERA — and 3.52 FIP — through his first seven outings (six starts) of the 2021 campaign down in the Dominican, Ramirez has also recorded 21 strikeouts to just 11 walks while holding opposing hitters to a .194 batting average against over 27 total innings pitched.

The 20-year-old hurler originally signed with the Red Sox out of Santo Domingo in May 2018 and made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League shortly thereafter.

At that time, Ramirez was listed at 6-foot and 145 pounds, but has since experienced a bit of a growth spurt that may have something to do with the success he has enjoyed this year, as Red Sox executive vice president and assistant general manager Eddie Romero recently explained to BloggingtheRedSox.com.

“Jose has been one of our better starters,” Romero said via email. “He’s 6-foot-2, 170 pounds now and shows three pitches — a fastball that’s 90-95 mph, a sharp, true curveball in the mid-70s, and a late, fading changeup.”

While Ramirez’s 19.6% strikeout rate to this point in the season does not exactly jump off the page, Romero credits the righty’s ability to attack the strike zone as a reason to why he has been so effective after the 2020 minor-league season was cancelled on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One day after Ramirez dominated for the Red Sox Red Dominican Summer League affiliate, outfield prospect Giancarlos Santana put together an impressive day at the plate for the Red Sox Blue affiliate on Tuesday.

Matched up against the DSL Rangers while starting in right field and batting out of the seven-hole, Santana led the way by going 3-for-4 with a triple, a home run, a walk, two RBI, two runs scored, and a stolen base in a 7-5 win for the Sox.

Santana’s homer, which came off Rangers starter Eury Rosado to lead things off in the top of the fifth inning, was the first of the 19-year-old’s professional career. It also got the Red Sox on the board and proved to be the catalyst for a five-run inning.

Fast forward to the top half of the 10th, with things knotted up at five runs apiece, and Santana again provided a boost while leading off an inning. This time, while matched up against reliever Elias Leal, the right-handed hitter ripped a triple — his first of the year — to drive in the winning run from second base.

Santana then scored an important insurance run himself on an RBI single off the bat of Diego Viloria, which in turn gave the Red Sox the two-run lead they would need to secure a 7-5 victory over the Rangers.

With his three-hit day in tow, Santana raised his batting line on the season to a solid .280/.438/.440 (156 wRC+) to go along with one triple, one home run, four RBI, six runs scored, seven walks, five strikeouts, and four stolen bases through 15 games and 32 plate appearances in the DSL.

The Red Sox originally signed Santana as a 17-year-old outfielder out of Santo Domingo for $460,000 back in July 2018. At that time, Baseball America’s Ben Badler wrote that Santana “has a clean, fluid swing with an advanced approach and sprays the ball over the field with a good track record of hitting in games. He’s a line-drive hitter with occasional doubles pop and a hit-over-power offensive profile, though he has the physical upside to grow into more sock.”

After settling in and eventually making his Dominican Summer League debut the following June, Santana got his professional career off to a rough start as he struggled to the tune of a .192/.322/.216 (69 wRC+) slash line over 50 games in 2019.

Despite those struggles, Santana was able to use the COVID-19 shutdown last year to his advantage, as he trained with his cousin — former Red Sox prospect and current Rays outfielder Manuel Margot — to get stronger.

“A rangy outfielder,” Romero said when describing Santana, who has experience at all three outfield positions. “He trains with his cousin Manuel Margot in the offseason. Santana struggled in his 2019 season but worked to get stronger during the pandemic and has performed well to date while showing much better plate command.”

Santana, who is listed at 6-foot-1 and likelier heavier than his listed weight of 180 pounds, struck out in 23% of his plate appearances in 2019 while only drawing a walk 13.5% percent of the time.

So far this year, as Romero indicated, Santana has shown better discipline at the plate considering the fact he has lowered his strikeout rate down to 15.6% in the process of raising his walk rate up to 21.9%.

The 2021 Dominican Summer League Season, which will not include a postseason, will run through October 2, so Ramirez and Santana have a little more than five weeks to continue to build on what they have done as of late.

With that being said, both Ramirez — who does not turn 21 until next March — and Santana — who turns 20 in November — can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in their respective careers next December.

(Picture of Giancarlos Santana: Jesse Sanchez/MLB.com)

Red Sox outfield prospect Armando Sierra could prove to be underrated member of team’s 2021 international signing class

The Red Sox made a splash in the international free-agent market this winter by signing Dominican outfield prospect Miguel Bleis for $1.5 million back in January.

Appearing on the SoxProspects.com podcast with Chris Hatfield and Ian Cundall in February, Red Sox executive vice president and assistant general manager Eddie Romero described Bleis as a “premium centerfield talent” who has “got all five tools” in addition to “surprising power” and “an absolute hose of an arm.”

While Bleis has stolen the headlines and has already shot up the prospect charts (Boston’s No. 22 prospect according to Baseball America), there is another 17-year-old outfielder the Sox signed out of the Dominican who deserves some attention as well.

That outfield prospect’s name? Armando Sierra, who hails from the same city as fellow outfielder Gilberto Jimenez and right-hander Denyi Reyes (San Cristobal).

In his review of what the Red Sox have done thus far during the 2021 international signing period, Baseball America’s Ben Badler identified Sierra as his ‘sleeper [to] watch.’

“Armando Sierra is a corner outfielder from the Dominican Republic with a chance to hit and hit for power,” Badler wrote of the right-handed hitter last week. “He’s a physically imposing 6-foot-3, 210 pounds with an advanced approach to hitting for his age, keeping the bat head in the hitting zone for a long time that helps him drive the ball with power to all fields. He’s a limited runner whose offensive game will drive his value.” 

Sierra, who signed with the Sox for a bonus of $150,000 on January 15, does not turn 18 until next January.

“Armando was a player we scouted later on in his signing year. After scouting him a few times, he stood out for his strong frame and his power,” Romero recently told BloggingtheRedSox.com via email. “As we continued to see him, it became apparent that not only did he have above average power for his signing class, but he also was developing a stronger approach.

“Since his signing, Sierra has lost close to 20 pounds while gaining muscle working out at our academy,” added Romero. “He continues to improve defensively and is also featuring an above average arm (which was not the case during his scouting trials).”

The young outfielder will likely begin the 2021 minor-league season with one of the Red Sox’ rookie-level, Dominican Summer League teams. In fact, as Romero indicated, he’s already training at the team’s Dominican academy in El Toro, a town just outside of Santo Domingo.

Other recent Red Sox international signees highlighted by Badler include catcher Enderso Lira, right-handers Alvaro Mejias and Jedixson Paez, and shortstops Luis Ravelo and Ahbram Liendo.

(Picture of Chaim Bloom: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox have an ‘extremely exciting’ prospect in Dominican outfielder Miguel Bleis, Eddie Romero says

Last month, the Red Sox made some headlines by giving Dominican outfield prospect Miguel Bleis a signing bonus of $1.8 million, making him the highest-paid player in their 2021 international signing class thus far.

Bleis, who turns 17 in early March, was regarded by Baseball America as the 20th-ranked international prospect headed into the international signing period, which began on January 15.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, the right-handed hitting, right-handed throwing center fielder “is one of the top athletes in the 2020-21 international class.

“He has a sleek, athletic frame with high physical upside. He glides around center field with an easy gait and long strides, with average speed that might tick up as he gets stronger along with a strong arm. He has a quick bat with gap power and a chance to turn more of his doubles into home runs once he gets stronger.”

Currently listed at 6-foot-2 and and 170 lbs., Bleis had been training in the Mejia Top 10 Program in his home country, but he is currently at the Red Sox’ Dominican Academy in El Toro, a town just outside of Santo Domingo.

On Monday’s installment of the SoxProspects.com podcast with Chris Hatfield and Ian Cundall, Red Sox executive vice president and assistant general manager Eddie Romero spoke at length about what Bleis brings to the table.

“He’s a premium center field talent,” Romero said of one of Boston’s newest prospects. “He’s got all five tools. He runs well. He’s got an absolute hose of an arm at an early age with really good mechanics and accuracy. So we think that he can stay in the middle of the field.

“He’s got surprising power,” Romero added. “Being so young and being able to have above-average raw power is something we don’t see often for a center field player given his body type and athleticism. So, really, what we need to hone in on with him is approach. He performed well offensively in competition for us, and he’s continued to do that in the academy.”

Bleis hails from San Pedro de Marocis, a city on the Dominican’s southeastern coast that has produced the likes of Sammy Sosa, Robinson Cano, Alfonso Soriano, Fernando Tatis, and Fernando Tatis Jr., among others.

“He’s a high-character kid that is all about baseball and he’s from San Pedro,” said Romero in regards to Bleis’ roots. “They put something in the water there to create baseball players. So we hope that he can continue the lineage of talent coming out of that area. He’s extremely exciting.”

Since he is still just 16 years old, Bleis is still obviously a long ways away from cracking a major-league roster as there is plenty of room for him to develop in a variety of areas over the next several years.

The young outfielder will likely begin the 2021 minor-league season with one of the Red Sox’ rookie-level, Dominican Summer League teams. That is, if there is a DSL season this year in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re actively discussing that with MLB right now,” Romero said when asked if there would be a DSL season in 2021. “Everybody hopes that there is. It’s just pandemic-affected. We’re still working on the best way to organize that: What the structure would be, how the testing would go. And so we really want to have another platform for these guys to develop after so many of them missed the entire season last year.”

One last note on Bleis for those who enjoy prospect lists: FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen has him ranked as Boston’s No. 32 prospect going into the 2021 campaign.

Using the 20-80 scouting scale, Longenhagen grades Bleis’ current tools as follows: 20 Speed, 45 Raw Power, 20 Game Power, 50 Run, 40 Fielding, 55 Throw.

“Bleis is a righty corner outfield power projection prospect with a whippy, low-ball swing and room for about 30 pounds on his frame,” Longenhagen wrote of the speedy outfielder.

(Picture of Eddie Romero: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)